Wednesday, September 30, 2009

John Tesh is a fear monger and needs to be stopped.

John Tesh is a fear monger and needs to be stopped.

The only time I ever listen to the radio is on the drive to work in the mornings. And the only reasons for that is because it's only a ten minute drive, and as out of it as I am in the mornings, it would take longer than that to locate and hook up my iPod. I can listen to Bob & Sheri, who are pretty amusing, get a dose of news and weather, and only have to listen to one shitty pop song. (And I swear, 80% of the time it's Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent." Could be worse.)

The problem with this is that I leave the station tuned when I get out of the car, and it's still on when I go home for lunch or at the end of the day. The rest of the day, there are copious amounts of commercials for the John Tesh Radio Show, "Intelligence for your life."

Now, full disclosure, I tend to hate any sort of motivational speakers. Growing up with a mother who listened to Tony Robbins all the time, I got seriously worn out on people who make a living telling other people how to run their lives.

That being said, it is entirely possible John Tesh is the devil. The thing I've noticed is that while I suppose he purports to be helping people, all of his well-meaning advice is more mean than well. All of the advice is basic common sense. And I know that common sense is not so common these days, but his brief advice snippets focus solely on the negative and rarely have any useful info.

I decided to sacrifice a few brain cells and check the website out for some examples.

Make Your Next Vacation As Stress-Free As Possible. The bullet points? Check your health insurance. Save your skin. Protect your valuables.

Because the only things that could possibly happen on your vacation are that you'll get sick, sunburned and robbed. How about ... buy a map! Plan ahead for the attractions you want to see. Become familiar with the general road structure/public transportation.

Secrets of The Airline Industry.
* Airport luggage scales are often wrong.
* The air in the airplane cabin could make you sick.
* The flight crew is totally exhausted.

They're maliciously overcharging you on purpose! You're going to get pneumonia and die! The pilot is going to fall asleep at the wheel and we'll all burn in a fiery disaster!

Make Your Date Like you in 90 Seconds or Less.
* Floss your teeth.
* If you want her to pay attention to you-- notice the color of her eyes.
* If you want her to like you right away-- Mirror her. If she scratches her nose, rub your eye. We gravitate toward people like us.

The first two make sense, but WTF with #3? Mime her movements? That's just creepy. Haven't we all seen enough romcoms to know that if you scratch your nose and he follows suit, you're going to be paranoid that there's something on your face and you'll both be doing a twitchy dance until you sneak out and get to a mirror and realize you look just fine?

We're Eating Too Much Sugar
* Research suggests that sugar makes your body less effective at fighting CANCER.

What research? Hmm? I like that they pick out the big killer and make sure you notice it by putting it IN CAPS.

But the one I heard on the radio the other day was the last straw: Beware of Canine Flu. Obviously, the commercials on the radio are not going to give you all of the info on the subject he's promoting for the full show. But does the commercial basically have to say, "could your beloved pet be dead within the week?!"

And did we ever stop to think that maybe the reason common sense is dying is because we depend too much on stupid people like John Tesh (or Oprah, Dr Phil, Tyra...) to tell us how to live our lives instead of figuring it out on our own? Sigh.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009



There used to be a time when I didn't watch much TV. Now, I spend significant time every week parked in front of it. I like to think that this is because TV is actually gradually starting to get better, but maybe I'm just rationalizing.

One of the current gems on right now is Castle. And it made it to a second season. That makes me happy, as my last favorite, Life on Mars, got canned, & it makes Nathan Fillion happy because his last show, Firefly, got canned, too. But beyond that, it's wonderful. It has been from the beginning, but it just keeps steadily getting better. And it makes me love Mondays.

It manages to be another crime show without being just any old crime show. It has just the right amount of dark humor to make it stand out & keep it from being another cliched show where someone dies & the cops have to figure out who done it. Take last night, for example, where the precinct was betting on who would solve their case first.

It also kind of feels like a little present from writers to writers. And maybe a little ode to their own line of work.

It's part of what makes Castle smart. I could go on about the individual story lines themselves, but I'm in college & I'm a writing major. I love nerdy humor about the English language & writing in general. So every time Castle got on someone's case about their wording, I laughed. My personal favorite? Castle rambling about "your" vs. "you're." These are the kinds of things that keeps writing majors, grammar Nazis, & general nerds up at night, & the kinds of jokes I find hilarious. I'm not sure how others respond to them, but my brother, for one, is probably at least reminded of me.

It would be easy to write Castle off, no pun intended, as another crime-driven show in a slew of crime-driven TV. We have CSI, Law & Order, Cold Case, it was the premise of my beloved Life on Mars, etc. We like these shows (why else would we have so many variations of Law & Order & CSI alone?) but it would also be easy to get tired of them, with so many out there basically doing the same thing. It's hard to keep it fresh, but somehow, Castle manages it.

So if you're not watching it already, give it a shot. At least do it for Nathan Fillion, & his pretty eyes, if nothing else. It'll brighten your Monday, I promise.

Shark Jumping?

Shark Jumping?

Big Bang Theory is one of my absolute favorite comedies. I love the geekiness of the guys especially Sheldon. Which is why it pains me that the show is heading toward the shark, ready to jump right on over it.

As with any show that's premise involves one character crushing on another. In this case a geek, Leonard (though the more normal of the bunch) and their blonde beautiful neighbor, Penny. So with the start of series 3, the Leonard/Penny shippers rejoice as the two get it together.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Not that I don't love the characters, because they are great, but something feels lost to me now that they are together. (At least for the time being)

Is this how they plan on keeping the viewers the show gained since switching to the later time? I hope not. I'm not all for the Penny/Leonard lovefest, much as I wasn't for the lovefest they gave him for a few epis last season. Not that Leonard doesn't need love too, but still, it just takes away from the original plot when Leonard gets what he wants.

I remember another show that I loved from the 90s, Caroline In The City. When Caroline started dating her crazy geeky assistant, Richard, the show started to go downhill fast. That's what I'm worried about here.

I guess its just that I think it would be great to have one show that's focus is more on fun than on romantic relationships, even if they are goofy ones.

I'm nowhere near ready to give up on the show, but I do hope they don't wreck the show with the whole hookup thing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tubesday Top 3: Trailer Remixes

Ah, trailer remixes. The phenomenon of 2006 where a little editing magic could turn your favorite chick flick into a zombie flick and your favorite comedy into a psychological thriller. My first pick is the video that started the trend: Shining. With a few tight edits and a well placed Paul Simon song, the Shining becomes a family friendly rom-com.

Second is my favorite out of the slew of Brokeback Mountain parodies that cropped up shortly after the film was released. That familiar twangy string score was an easy punchline, but only one video dared to see the homoerotic undercurrents in MY favorite cowboy movie: Brokeback to the Future.

Finally, more of a mashup than a remix that works eerily well: High School Musical with the Dark Knight's trailer audio

Happy Tubesday!

Video Game Review: The Beatles Rock Band

Video Game Review: The Beatles Rock Band

My friends & I are obsessed with a few things. One of them is Rock Band. Another is The Beatles. There are a few others that fall in the middle, but our lives always come back to those two things. So for us, The Beatles & Rock Band was a marriage made in musical video game heaven.

It's just like classic Rock Band, with a few new things (not counting the fact that you play as The Beatles). The singer has the option to sing solos or harmonies, for one. Then there are the special Beatles quirks: when the singer hits a note, normal Rock Band just says, "Awesome!" Beatles Rock Band says, "Fab!" Minor, but amusing, especially for Beatles fans. You also have the option to adjust the level of screaming girls before you start playing - they can actually scream louder than the music. They don't completely drown you out, & if you're really focused you won't notice it as much, but they definitely do reach impressive volumes. And they get louder when you use your Star Power. At least that's what it's called in Guitar Hero, in Rock Band I think it's different.

Another addition is you collect photos. You don't really have to, it's just an added challenge, but the better you perform, the more photos you get.

Now, the fun stuff. In story mode you're basically playing a watered down version of the history of The Beatles, & things change accordingly. You start out in Liverpool, the band has their little bowl haircuts & suits, & the graphics are of screaming girls & the band playing. You play in chapters, each with a different set of songs corresponding to that era, with an introductory cartoon showing pictures & footage of the band. When you get to the Abbey Road sessions, things get more interesting. The band's appearance changes & the screaming girls are replaced by a studio, & the graphics become what can only be described as an acid trip. Is it a commentary on the psychedelic nature of some of the songs, or on what the band did when they weren't recording? Only John, Paul, George, & Ringo will ever know for sure. But more than once, mid-song, one of us said, "Guys, I think we're tripping." And if you're familiar with Beatles history, even only vaguely, you know that when you get to the rooftop concert levels, the end is nigh.

The most fun, naturally, is in the actual songs, & seasoned Rock Band players can jump right in on the higher difficulties with no real problem. We had a blast getting to play many of our favorite Beatles tunes, & the more we liked the song, we found, the better we performed. Plus it makes for excellent group sing-a-longs, because even though there is one designated singer, everyone sings anyway. It made for a very fun night in.

Unfortunately, it's not perfect. Players of the original Rock Band will recall how it doesn't seem to really end. This time, the game is too short, especially for the big price tag. We beat it, including the encore, in about three hours, without failing a single song. To put that into better perspective, I got the first Rock Band two Christmases ago & we still haven't beat it. Sure, The Beatles Rock Band followed the story of the actual band, but there are ways to make actual story game play longer. Like including more songs, for example. Plenty of the classics are included, but plenty aren't, as well. Our theory? That they're going to offer a lot of downloadable content, which you have to pay for. Sure, it's genius marketing, but it's also not exactly fair.

Those two things aside, there's nothing really to complain about. Unless you have to play through your least favorite songs, but hey, that's your problem.

Four out of five stars. Would've gotten five if it wasn't so short.

New TV with potential: FlashForward

New TV with potential: FlashForward

Alternatively titled: The British Invasion.

FlashForward's four main characters are all played by Brits (and one Irishman), only one of whom keeps his accent. Joseph Finnes, Sonya Walger, Jack Davenport, and Brian O'Byrne all hail from the other side of the Atlantic. As does guest star Alex Kingston, and according to IMDB, Dominic Monaghan is going to show up soon as well.

Normally I'd be a little leery of this many fake accents, but with one episode down, they're all doing a stellar job. Though I, for one, am happy they at least let Jack Davenport keep his accent. I love that man's voice, and I have ever since he played lovable idiot Steve in the British series Coupling. It is, to use one of my favorite 25 cent words, rather mellifluous.

The gist of the show, if you haven't heard, is that everyone on the planet blacks out at exactly the same time, for just over two minutes. Whilst blacked out, they each see a vision of their future, at a very specific time.

The date that they all flash forward to is April 29, 2010. Which amuses me personally because it's my mother's birthday. But I also find it interesting because that's a date that's within this television season, meaning that (unlike "Lost," the alma mater of two of our stars) we'll actually get the story through to a conclusion. Then again, since there is a definite end date, where do they go for a second season?

Of course it starts as one big mess. If everyone blacks out, no one is driving cars or flying airplanes and there's a lot of death and destruction. It reminds me in this way of Jericho, one of my favorite shows killed before its time. (See also: Sports Night, Firefly). It develops the potential for a lot of interesting stories on how people relate to each other in times of need and crisis, and the basest human nature.

The premiere episode laid a lot of really interesting groundwork. It's got a world of characters trying to figure out not only what happened but why, and how it will affect them from here on out. How will what they've seen impact the choices they make? They'll have to struggle with wondering if they're making decisions on free will or because they've been influenced by this flash.

This could go terribly, terribly wrong. It could get overly involved and confusing, like similar time shifting drama Journeyman, which I really enjoyed, but didn't last past the first series. Or they could decide to dumb it down, like a large amount of other cop shows on TV. But the first episode walked the line in the middle fairly well and I'm curious to see where they take it.

It is certainly shot very well, everything looks great. The acting is excellent. I see a lot of potential here, I hope they can keep it up.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Movie Review: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past

All the film critics panned this film which is one of the reasons I had to watch it.

I'm not exactly sure why it was so unfavorably reviewed. Granted it wasn't a deep thoughtful movie. It was silly. A sexed up take on Dickens' Christmas Carol. Sure this type of story has been done over and over, but with a cast like this, the plot shouldn't even matter,
It wasn't the best of movies that I've seen but it wasn't the worst either, in fact, it was kind of cute. That kind of light, fluffy, romantic comedy that you need on a Saturday night when its pouring down rain. (Which it was doing last night)

Matthew McConaughey's Connor is just the perfect ladies man, wooing just about any woman in a skirt, ok, every woman in a skirt, but failing miserably when it comes to winning the one woman he really loves, Jennie (played by Jennifer Garner)

He's shown how he was led down the wrong path by the ghost of his Uncle Wayne, who was the man responsible for him becoming the idiot playboy that he is, the teenage girl he lost his virginity too, his assistant and a silent blonde beauty.

Its a feel good movie with eye candy for the ladies and the men. Its definitely better than what the critics have led us all to believe and its certainly worth a buck @ the dollar theater or to be queued in your Netflix.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Molly's Top 5 movies of the 80s

Molly's Top 5 movies of the 80s

As I've probably demonstrated by now, I'm a huge pop culture nerd. One of the big blinking warning signs of this is my love of top five lists ala High Fidelity. (I suppose that's also a big blinking warning sign of OCD, but c'est la vie.) So I'm trying out a new format by posting excerpts of my big backlog of top fives, starting with my favorite movies from each decade and christening it with the 80s.

The Lost Boys

Other than the whole "Bat Nipples" fiasco, I don't understand the hate for Joel Schumacher. I actually dig his style a bit, especially his sets. At any rate, I'm pretty sure this is my favorite vampire movie. I like my horror injected with a bit of humor, and if my vampires are going to be effeminate, I'd rather them have fluffy hair and earrings than body glitter and abstinence preaching.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure/ Back to the Future

Push comes to shove, these movies are pretty similar: slackers find a purpose in life by going back in time through unconventional methods. It's their differences that make it so hard to choose between them. Bill and Ted arguably have the most quotable lines and continue the grand Dr. Who tradition of time travel through phone booth (which Keanu carried on to The Matrix.) But BTTF had a Huey Lewis theme song! A CUSTOM Huey Lewis theme song! That's hard to trump!

Little Shop of Horrors

Definitely in my top 10 all-time faves because it's a perfect combination of camp, music, sci-fi, 50s tributes, and 80s cheese. Some people have comfort food, I have comfort movies, and this on a sick day is the psychic equivalent of chicken soup.


I have a pretty dark sense of humor, and this movie gets it. Christian Slater in top form and hilarious deadpan lines like "I love my dead gay son" put this beyond the realm of 80s teenage revenge movies.

Shock Treatment

I haven't met anyone yet that likes this movie and isn't a hardcore Rocky Horror nerd (if you're out there, say hi!), which is a real pity. To be honest, most days I like this as much as, if not more than, Rocky. The songs are better, and the plot of Denton become a giant reality show set was way ahead of its time. Extra bonus for rad b-movie supastar Jessica Harper!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm Sick Of It

I'm Sick Of It

I'm sick of the world trying to tell me what I should or shouldn't eat. I'm also sick of people telling me that sugar is bad and all these artificial sweeteners are good.


If Splenda, Equal or whatever were so fantastic, why do they leave such a lovely aftertaste in my mouth, thus making me want to grab a bag of chips or anything just to get rid of the taste.

Its the same with people that go on and on about eggs. I don't mind egg beaters for scrambled eggs, but please, I would rather have bamboo shoots rammed under my fingernails than eat a poached egg white.


Ever have one of those Jimmy Dean De-lites? Seriously, toss the egg in the trash and eat the sandwich with just the turkey sausage. The egg is too painful. Microwave it a second too long and its like eating rubber and who wants to do that?

I do my best to eat healthy but there are times when I want REAL FOOD, because, see, I like food. I enjoy eating. Yes, that's why I have a little pudge. At this point I'm thinking I'll just live with it, because I become way too cranky when I have to diet.

Food is my friend, but health food is my enemy.

What can't stuff that's good for us be tasty? I can count on my hand the number of "good for you foods that I actually like."


Have any of you guessed I'm trying to diet and am failing miserably?



Fox's new gem, Glee, has been getting a lot of attention it seems, & it deserves it. It's brilliantly funny with a super talented cast that can not only act, but they can sing, too, & they're all spectacular. Sure, it's a little over-the-top sometimes, but it has its roots in theater. A little cheese shouldn't be a surprise.

And now that Glee has had a few weeks to stretch its legs, it's showing just what it's capable of.

This week's episode was probably one of the funniest, with Jane Lynch's character being as hilarious as ever. And how can you not love a football team dancing to "Singe Ladies", especially while Kanye's Beyonce-loving rant is still fresh on everyone's minds? But beyond that, the show is going a little farther. We've known about the Glee club director Will's problems from the start, but now we're getting to see what's going on the kids lives. Spoiler alert, if you haven't seen it yet -- the show is now delving into issues of sexuality & teen pregnancy. Some of it is funny, some of it provides plot points, and some is just general characterization and provides great moments between characters like Will & Fin.

Corny as it may sound, I think it's a fantastic move. It may be a comedy & said issues may have been addressed before, but they're issues that teens still deal with all the time. Glee may be a hilarious musical romp, but tonight, it proved that there's more to it than genius one-liners & show-stopping musical numbers. It made me love it even more.

And if you haven't tuned in yet, please do, especially if you love music, laughing, or both. Fox, Wednesday nights at 9. And for all my fellow theater nerds, guest appearance from Kristen Chenowith next week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Movie Review: Adventureland

Movie Review: Adventureland

The latest thing to come through my Netflix queue was the surprisingly touching

From the marketing of this film ("From the director of 'Superbad' etc), I expected this film to be another mindless, fun romp through the late teenage years and the stupid things we get ourselves involved in at that age.

It's so much more than that.

For starters, it's set in the 80's, and comes replete with an amazing soundtrack, including Lou Reed, The Replacements, Big Star, & The New York Dolls.

But more importantly, it's a story of what we do with our lives when we leave college and are hit with that wave of "oh shit, what do I do now?" It's a story of one of those times in our lives when we're adrift and have to figure out where, and who, we are. It's smart and witty and sweet.

I feel like I should write a whole review, but also that telling you more would ruin it. Just see it, yeah? It's worth it.

Album Review: AFI - Crash Love

Album Review: AFI - Crash Love

When you spend years in love with a band, the release of a new album is a whole experience. I was introduced to AFI when I was 13. I'm 20 now. A lot happens in seven years, and that much time devoted to a band leads to expectations and even apprehension with each new album release. You have what you fell in love with in the first place, and what comes after. It might not be the same band. There's a lot riding on new releases, especially with a fan base as intense as AFI's.

When "Medicate", the first single off of Crash Love was released, I wasn't impressed. When the 30-second clips of each song off of Crash Love were released, I wasn't impressed. Still, 30 seconds can't accurately convey the power of nearly a four-minute song, as I found when AFI streamed the entire album over their MySpace starting Tuesday.

I was wrong to be so near disappointment. Crash Love is a thing of beauty. And if it had been the opposite, I wouldn't have been afraid to admit it.

For their past few albums, AFI's been known for short but strong introductory songs. Crash Love kicks off with "Torch Song" which sets the pace, as the album opener should, but isn't the usual 1-2 minute intro. It's nearly four minutes long, and when you hear it, you know what you're in for. While their last album, Decemberunderground, took a turn for the more pop-electric, Crash Love from the start almost takes a step back, returning to more solid rock but also keeping with the melodies the band has became great at constructing, which they prove with "Beautiful Thieves." The guitars on "End Transmission" have almost a Cure feel to them, and Jade Puget shows, once again, just what he's capable of doing. Same with singer Davey Havok - he might not be able to scream like he used to and like the older fans with hardcore roots want, but his voice is still arguably the most identifiable in rock music, and it's fantastic. "Too Shy to Scream" has a stellar beat and chorus that will undoubtedly end up stuck in my head. It might be my favorite song on the album, and Davey keeps it up with his signature "Oh!"'s in "Veronice Sawyer Smokes", which just continues the fantastic melodies. The pacing slows with "Okay, I Feel Better Now", but picks right up again with the aforementioned "Medicate" which - for my previous criticisms of it - does have a brilliant riff. A few of the songs, such as "I Am Trying Very Hard to Be Here", have that distinct, signature AFI sound without feeling old, overdone, or like we've heard them before. "Sacrilege" is a common fan favorite already. The toned-down vocals on "Darling, I Want to Destroy You" are almost haunting. The song has some truly beautiful quality to it, complete with a guitar crescendo. Things fit together so well and drive forward so excellently that "Cold Hands", the second to last song on the album,
doesn't feel like it's leading to the end, or that it should end so soon. But at the same time, "It Was Mine" has the slowed down feel that a solid closing song should.

Crash Love does have its flaws, though. It sounds a little bit over-produced, but I'll blame the MySpace stream for any issues regarding sound. Furthermore, a complaint from a lot of fans is the lyrics. This album is more Hollywood-geared as opposed to the dark, meaningful lyrics AFI has become known for, but the song construction is so great that it's forgivable. And it doesn't mean that Havok isn't still the supreme lyricist he's become over the years, because he's definitely still delivering fantastic lines. And all things considered, I don't think there's a single song I dislike.

Even with its flaws, Crash Love is a masterpiece, no matter how I felt even 24 hours ago. It might be AFI's best yet - I hesitate to say for sure just because it's still a little too early. Not all fans will like it, as inevitably with every AFI release there's a handful of naysayers who abandon ship, but if you're willing to let it, Crash Love delivers.

You can pick it up in stores, various places online, or stream it for free through Wednesday on AFI's MySpace. Beware the obnoxious Avril Lavigne ads the often interrupt the otherwise awesome listening experience.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tubesday Top 3: Cuteness Edition

Tubesday Top 3: Cuteness Edition

The first is a video made by my friend Will a few years ago in which he and his chihuahua have a language barrier problem. Totally hilarious but NSFW captions.

What's cuter than footage of Berlin's most adorable cashcow? Said footage accompanied by a German technopop ditty as sung by a six year old girl (EARWORM WARNING). Knut, named after the Norse word for "knot" and/or a Swiss metal band, was the first polar bear cub to survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo in the past few decades. This video is a fitting tribute.

Finally, when you're hard pressed to think or say anything else, cute kittens win every time. Every. Time.

Happy Tubesday!

Validation for the "Girl Love" rant

Validation for the "Girl Love" rant

THIS. Sweet Baby Burger Flipping Jesus, THIS.

Though I only kind of offhandly mentioned it in the last post, the inspiration for that "Girl Love rant" was all the hate geared toward Diablo Cody and her new movie Jennifer's Body in the mainstream press and the feminist blogosphere. It seemed like a good portion of the reviews didn't even wait to see it before writing it off, or at the very least went into the picture with a very specific predetermined mindset. But this post over at GirlDrive debunks all the haters and takes on the biggest cliches their reviews share, which amounts to *gasp* an actual film review rather than recycled Focus on the Family tactics.

[side note: by actual film review, I'm not meaning "yay, it's positive!" I'm all for well-thought out criticisms of films or filmmaking styles - not filmmakers' personal lives and life choices, distinction! - and would be just as cool with a reviewer that didn't dig the movie. What wedges the stick up my ass are the reviews that start out "I don't even have to see the film to know that it's hack-eyed Hollywood tripe written by an ex-stripper who pretends to be subversive"... and boy howdy, are there a lot of them out there!]

At any rate, I'm going to do a proper writeup of the film soon. I was just super pumped to read this blog post. It always feels nice to have your thoughts validated by another person.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coping With A Pet Loss

Coping With A Pet Loss

One of the hardest things in the world to deal with is losing a beloved pet. Its just as hard as losing a family member. No wait, pets are family members, at least to those of us that truly love our animals. (And you know there are people that just have a pet to have one)

But how do you really cope?

I've had animals in my life as long as I can remember. My earliest memory is of my mom's poodle Pierre. So at 35 I've had a string of pets, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, bunnies and turtles. That means I've lost a lot of animals. The one thing that's the hardest with them is that you always wonder, could I have done more for them? Did they know how much I loved them. After all, a cat, dog or whatever can't tell you that they love you in the normal ways. But believe me, they know. Whether its a loud purr or kneading of your legs or a warm nose on your lab, animals have a way of conveying their love for their human friends. So the first thing you have to put out of you head is that your pet didn't know that you loved them.

The next thing you must do is let yourself grieve. You have to cry, when the urge hits you. This animal was a part of your life, it's natural to cry. Crying doesn't make you any less of a person. In fact, I think it makes you more so. If you have animal loving friends, talk to them. Talk about how you feel. They'll understand that you are hurting.

The last thing you must do when the grieving is finished and if you are a true animal lover, is to let another furry creature into your life.

I can never understand people that say "I will never have another cat or dog because this one died."

OK, so you will never make friends with people either because they may die or fuck you over? I've never found that way of thinking rational.

I'm not saying run out and get another animal the instant that your pet dies, but if you are an animal lover when the grieving process is complete, a new furry friend should be in the offing. I've always believed that my animals would want me to care for another animal after they were gone.

I don't know about you, but these are some things that have helped me cope with my losses over the years. I'm not saying that right now I don't feel like my heart has been ripped out of my body and tossed on the floor, but I'm coping. I know my Mutchka was well loved and well taken care of in the 15 years he had to share with us.

Girl Love 101: a Rant

Girl Love 101: a Rant

Today I want to talk about girl-love and the lack thereof on the internet. Now before you give me horrified looks and expect porno talk, let me explain. “Girl-love” is a philosophy developed in the Riot Grrrl scene in the 90s. The gist of it is that because it's so damn hard for women to get into fields like music and television, we shouldn't add to that difficulty by cutting down and criticizing women that have made it.

I don't mean to sound like a Pollyanna, but I am genuinely happy for anybody that reaches the level of success where they get paid for doing what they love, even if I don't particularly dig what they do. Take Taylor Swift, for instance. Her music doesn't exactly do anything for me, but I can't deny that it does for thousands of teenage girls across the country. Some of those girls might have never thought of picking up a guitar before seeing her do it, and I think that's worth something.

It's the impact of silly, throwaway entertainment, like “manufactured pop” or “fluff flicks” that can have a huge impact and inspire a new generation of entertainers and thinkers. A good example of this is Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on the original Star Trek. She didn't think her role on the show was terribly important, revolution, or empowering to women or minorities until Dr. Martin Luther King sat her down and basically said that her role on Star Trek changed the face of TV. Seeing someone that looks like you in pop culture for the first time in your life is a powerful thing: just ask Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, or Whoopie Goldberg, both of whom were inspired to do what they do by seeing Uhura on the Starship Enterprise.

I've been thinking about this concept a lot recently. It's hard enough being an independent filmmaker in a small “city,” but even harder when you're one of a few visible women in a small scene. I run into things that make me wish there was another lady filmmaker in Huntington so we could talk, rant, and make fun of things that my dude filmmaker friends, as much as I love them, wouldn't quite get because their life experiences are different. Even in the mainstream scene there aren't too many widely recognized women, so it just pisses me off when people rag on them. So many people hate on Diablo Cody for basically being Diablo Cody, not so much for any of the work she's produced (in fact, I've read a lot of people who didn't even see Jennifer's Body before deciding they hated it.) And when those people are women, who have been through the exact same discrediting of their works and lives from a mostly male critics circle... To be honest, sometimes it gets me down to the point where I don't want to make art anymore.

But it might be easy to misconstrue what I've just written. I'm not advocating blanket-loving every single thing a women creates; that's just as condescending as hating something just because a woman produced it. Taste is relative, and that's okay. To quote Thomas Jefferson, “the world don't turn to the beat of just one drum/ what might be right for you might not be right for some.” I'm also not saying to avoid calling people out on their bullshit just because they're women. I can think of a lot of women who needed called out because what they put out caused more harm than help (Sarah Palin and Anne Coulter immediately spring to mind). And no, I'm not some high-holy Mother Teresa of Girl Love; I get snarky too sometimes.

All I'm saying are a few simple things. (1) even if we don't dig their music/ art/ job, we should at least send out a little positivity to the ladies in male-dominated field for simply cracking that ceiling. (2) we shouldn't be so quick to snub our noses at certain entertainers, as we don't know who they might be inspiring. (3) Think of the impact your hate has, not just on the subject but on the readers as well.

Finally, I leave you with this thought: nobody ever built a statue of a critic. It's a lot easier to tear somebody down than to go out and do it yourself. Being in a public space and sharing what you've created with strangers is pretty damn hard, especially when you have to keep in mind that some of them are going to hate you before you open your mouth. So before you fire up that blog and hate on the latest lady-created movie/ album/ art, why don't you take those criticisms to heart and make something that you think is better?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Its Been A Bad Day

Its Been A Bad Day

My cat died today. Well one of my cats, I have many and I'm really rather depressed, angry and sad. A pretty nasty combination of emotions.

So I thought I'd pretty up the place.

How am I going to do that?

By sharing some photos of some of my favorite celebrities. Male celebrities, that is.

Now remember, I like some eclectic things, so don't expect the traditional sort of bloke to appear below my words.

The first bloke is singer/songwriter Nick Lowe, of Cruel To Be Kind fame. He puts on a rocking live show. Catch him if you get the chance.

Next up is my favorite manwhore and friend to Nick, Elvis Costello. Bow to his greatness!

Ahh, Jim Strugess, how do I love thee, let me count the soon as I wipe the drool off my computer's monitor.

Who is this next guy? That's Phillip Glennister from the UK series Ashes To Ashes and Demons. Mmmm I do like me some snarky cop/detective.

Who are your favorite celebrities to look at when you're feeling a bit blue?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Book Review: V.S. Naipaul: A House For Mr. Biswas

Book Review: V.S. Naipaul: A House For Mr. Biswas

A House For Mr. Biswas isn't one of my usual novels. Its a story of Mohun Biswas from his birth til his death and his quest to better himself and find a household of his very own. Its a long journey and very seldom do things go right for Mohun.

He was born with a sneeze that precedes doom and a sixth finger that a pundit said would bring nothing but trouble and perhaps that is so. His childhood is full of tragedy including the drowning of his father in a search for Mohun, who was hiding in his room because he had lost a calf down by the water.

He goes through a series of unsuccessful apprenticeships before he becomes a sign painter and through that job he acquires his wife and the rest of the Tolsi family. His wife's family is a bullying lot and none of them really hit it off with Mohun and that's where the story gets interesting.

Through most of his life, Mohun battles his in-laws in every way possible, doing his best not to rely on jobs given him by Seth, his wife's uncle and even when he does take jobs from him nothing goes right, from poor business decisions when he was a shop keeper to the madness that set in when he worked in the fields. Poor Mohun.

Its hard not to feel pity for him, but the truth of the matter is, he's every man. He makes mistakes, he fights with his wife and in-laws, he longs to be a better, smarter man.

This book is not for everyone. It really requires time and a willingness to understand the culture of Trinidad in the early part of the 20th century. It took me 4 days to read it, and I'm glad I did.

This book is a keeper.

I shared this review at an LJ community and on my Goodreads profile

Friday, September 18, 2009

Album Review: Bryant Oden - Songdrops: 30 Songs for Kids

Album Review: Bryant Oden - Songdrops: 30 Songs For Kids

Songdrops is an unusual batch of tunes for the tinier listeners. The vocals are definitely suited to kids from Pre-school to maybe 1st grade. The subject matter goes from cute stories (The Duck Song, I’ve Got A Pea) to the more outrageous (This Song Is Stuck Inside My Head, The Ukulele Song). The styles used for each range from electronic synth pop beats, to folk songs a’la Peter, Paul & Mary, to power pop.

The album is all over the place, with short little ditties designed to capture the attention of the younger crowd and when they aren’t doing that they are soothing them so they can drift off to the land of nod. On lullaby-like track, Sing You A Rainbow is very much like Peter, Paul & Mary. In fact the vocals sound quite a bit like Paul Stookey.

The songs that really will stick with you are the ones that have you and the kids in stitches, like I Got A Pea which sings like “I gotta pee” and I Don’t Like Tomatoes because they make the singer “Far To Unhappy.” Yes, sing that last line at just the right speed and you’ll know everyone is going to be giggling up a storm. If those don’t tickle your fancy, maybe Honey Bear who is sitting there in its underwear will bring a smile to you face. Then there’s Before I Knew How To Rhyme, which is just hilarious, simply because of the phrases that replace rather obvious words that would rhyme in the tune.

The tracks on the album fit nicely in four categories, “funny songs,” “happy songs,” “tongue twisters,” and “relaxing songs/bedtime songs.” So there’s a song for just about every time that you’re little one will be in need of music. Maybe that’s a bit much in the grand scheme of thing, after all Songdrops and Sundrops are the same song with different lyrics, and the first time you play the CD through you may wonder why the song appears twice, that is until you check the liner notes, but its still a pretty song, whichever set of lyrics you choose.

This is definite an album the kids will go wild for and to make it better, it’s an album that won’t drive their parents to distraction when the songs are played on repeat. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that a parent or two out there might find themselves singing along, especially to some of the sillier tunes that worm their way right into your head. Parents don’t worry, they aren’t songs you’ll be too embarrassed to be caught singing. Ok, maybe when you’re singing the “I Got A Pea” you may get some funny looks, but it could be worse.

Bryant has crafted an album chock full of good tunes that will amuse and delight the little ones in your life. Grab a copy and get to singing. This album is sure to bring some smiles to all the young kids and its bound to be an album you’ll want to share with the rest of the family too.

Buy: CD Baby
Watch: The Duck Song

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beautiful Northern Michigan

Originally from northern Michigan, I have been to most of Michigan on road trips, both as a child and as an adult. I thought I had seen every back road, every tree lined highway, every farmhouse, barn, and wild animal, but I was in no way prepared for the beauty of the drive I took this summer with my parents. We made the trek to Cross Village, which is in the upper Northwest corner of the lower peninsula of the state. We traveled across Michigan to Harbor Springs, which is a beautiful lake town. There are so many beautiful houses, boats on the harbor, and the downtown is adorable with many little shops to choose from, as like much of Western Michigan. We then traveled about 20 minutes north up highway 119 to Cross Village through what is called the “Tunnel of Trees”, a heavily wooded area along the water with a winding road carved in. One of THE most beautiful drives I have ever been on, and word has it that it is even more beautiful in the fall and spring. Lake Michigan is on your left, and several awe-inspiring houses are on both sides of the road, with more than enough space in between. These are most residents’ “summer” homes, making one wonder of their means of income. We traveled through the tiny town of Good Hart, where there is a movie worthy General Store, which also houses the Post Office, Realty Office, and the best beef and chicken pot pies I’ve ever tasted.

Once we arrived in Cross Village, we ate dinner at the Legs Inn, which is a beautiful log cabin type restaurant on Lake Michigan that serves several different kinds of foods, one being Polish, one of my favorites. My mom, dad and I all had the Taste of Poland plate, which included Golabki (Cabbage Roll), Kielbasa (Polish Smoked Sausage), old fashioned Polish style sauerkraut, and Pierogi (Polish Style Dumplings). It was delicious!

For those of you who have never had the joy of paying Michigan a visit, plan on it. Sometimes it gets a bad rap for its economy, the city of Detroit, crime rates in Detroit, etc. But there are so many bodies of water and hidden getaways, we vacation in Michigan often. Summers are the best for there is boating, fishing, jet skiing, four-wheeling, but in the fall you can hunt, and in the winters there are several slopes for those of you who ski.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Healthy Eating?!

Healthy Eating?!

I'm a fan of healthy eating when I can. Heck, who am I kidding, I'm a fan of eating. I'm one of those women always on a battle with my waistline. I hate dieting, simply because when I'm dieting, I'm the most miserable person to live with.

So yesterday when my mom calls me at work to tell me about this woman she saw on Rachael Ray's talk so, I was sceptical and yet intrigued. I trust nothing about Rachael, except her food, because I truly believe the lady is second in command to Satan. Her made up words make me want beat my head against walls, but back to the topic. My mom introduced me to Hungry Girl.

If you are like me, and need to diet, but don't want to give up food, this is an awesome site. It has tips, recipes and food comparisons to help you make good choices or to makeover your favorite foods with less fat and calories than their regular conterparts.

I've definitely found some hints I want to try. And she's much more tolerable than those wankers that write the Skinny Bitch books. Heads up Vegans. You don't live any longer because you don't eat meat or products from animals. I'm pretty sure more Vegans are killed each year by the rest of the carnivores because they are sick of having them shove their lifestyle down everyone's throats than those living to a ripe old age.

I have no objections to meatless meals, but I know I frankly couldn't go the rest of my life without a burger, chicken or turkey. But again I digress. This website is all kinds of awesome and offers a daily newsletter too, where you can access everything.

Oh and if you are a fan of Freebies, Hungry Girl can help you out too. In a recent newsletter they provided a link to get a free trial sized box of Kashi Cereal. Go here to get yours. And if Kashi isn't your thing, you might want to try the new Blueberry Pomagranate Total. You can get a free sample of that here. Plus when you sign up for your cereal you can get more recipe filled newsletters.

Mmmm tasty

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Something To Ponder

Something To Ponder

I heard a little piece of information about pets that disturbed me the other day. Did you know that though our animals are living longer these days, cancer is on the rise in our pets.

I've always wanted to shake a fist at the higher power for that, and I've been touched by pets with cancer not once, not twice but three times. Its a horrible thing to have to deal with.

But what is causing it?

Who knows but there are some things we can do that might help and they are much like the precautions we'd take for ourselves. Eat healthy! For the love of God, don't buy the cheapest dog food/cat food out there. Do you know what's in that stuff? You probably don't want to know either!

You know what? If you want to feed your pet table scraps, be careful what you give them but don't be afraid to do it. Dogs and cats will be happy to clean your plate. I know mine are. But watch the kind of the veggies you might give them (onions are a big no no) and the same goes for chocolate. However if your dog wants a piece of roast or chicken, there is no problem there. Think people! What did our animals eat before Purina? Yeah, table scraps! Sure its going to promote begging at the supper table but people had dogs and cats long before Purina and Iams!

The other thing I suggest and we know I'm no vet, but I am an animal lover. Lay off the flea products as much as you can, especially on older pets. No one wants fleas, least of all your pets, but do would you put a pesticide on your skin? That's what those products are. I've used them on my animals. They work...sometimes. However the more I read, the less confidence I have in them and the more fearful I am for my animals. This is one time I'll side with Peta, check out their media sheet here.

Now don't worry. I don't go all out with PETA and I don't subscribe to turning animals vegetarian, because they weren't meant to be. I just think we should all think a little bit more about what we give our pets. Their lives are just as important as ours.

Tubesday Top 3: Awkward Movie Edition

Tubesday Top 3: Awkward Movie Edition

Putting this up early as Tuesday is a busy day for moi. This week's Tubesday Top 3 is chock full o' "so bad it's good" entertainment.

First up is a clip I discovered on my favorite cycling blog Urban Velo. It combines some of my favorite things in life: rad ladies, bikes, and kung fu. Can't say I've seen the actual movie, but I don't know how it could get much better than KUNG FU FIGHTING WITH BICYCLES.

Video #2 was brought to you by a mysterious late night tweet from a Mr. Benjamin Scott Folds. Neither he nor I know what the hell is going on here.

Finally, a clip from my favorite episode of one of my favorite TV shows Home Movies.

Home Movies chronicles three elementary school kids trying to make indie films, often with disastrous results. I dig the show because the scripts are entirely improv, and it reminds me of being a kid and trying to rope my peers into epic music/ stage projects when all they wanted to do was play Ninja Turtles. Anyway, in this episode, the kids reluctantly make a rock opera... based on Kafka's Metamorphosis.

Happy early Tubesday!

My Dirty Little Secret

My Dirty Little Secret

I have a dirty little secret. No it isn't too terrible. OK, well maybe it is. I'm addicted to Disney TV shows.

There I said it.

I feel better now.

Yes, I get enjoyment and even a few giggles out of Hannah Montana, The Witches Of Waverly Place and The Suite Life (whether on or off deck)

I think it has something to do with the lack of really good family sitcoms on major networks. I grew up with Family Ties, Family Matters, The Facts Of Life, Full House...should I go on? These were shows where the kids were just as important to the show as the adult actors and actresses.

Where is that on network tv now?


I'll admit the music is not that great all the time, but its fine for the tweens. OK, I'll even admit that I occasionally rock out to Mitchel Musso's album.


I rock out more than occasionally, but I can't help it, Hey and The In Crowd are damn infectious and if I were a teenager, I would so have a crush on Mitchel. Oh and if you were wondering, no I don't like the Brothers Jonas. They just fall flat to me and I want to pluck the one dude's eyebrows.

But back to Mitchel. This song was so me, when I was in high school.

The In Crowd

Now if you don't mind, I be hiding. I've embarrassed myself enough for one day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Local Bands: My Cardboard Spaceship Adventure

Local Bands: My Cardboard Spaceship Adventure

Every so often, I'd like to post about bands in the Pittsburgh area as I discover them or when someone has a new project going on. Starting with my newest find, My Cardboard Spaceship Adventure.

Yeah, the name's a mouthful. But you have to admit, it's different & gets attention.

Like many bands around here, I found out about them when they were opening for Punchline, another band from the area, but that's another post for another day. From the beginning of their set to the very end, I was impressed. I bought their EP (for $3!) & listened to it in the car on my way home.

Here's the thing: they're just plain fun. As I let the EP play, I smiled. Best described as a pop-punk band, they're upbeat both musically & lyrically. A song called "You Equals Awesome" is bound to make you feel good. Even though they'd appeal mainly to a high school or college audience, they shouldn't be written off. They know how to write a good, catchy song & put on a show, & they've got some great lyrics. Plus they're new & independently released their EP, Let's Play It Safe, & have opened for Mae. They have plenty of room to grow. And best of all, although their exact style isn't quite new to music, they still have managed to be a bit of a breath of fresh air.

Songs to listen to: "Warning Signs", "Shot Down", & "You Equals Awesome" - including the acoustic version. And for a laugh, go for "Dude I Mean Seriously It's the 1st Song" & "Voicemail".

If you're in the Pittsburgh area, check out one of their shows if you see them out. No matter where you are, give them a listen on their MySpace. You can also find them on iTunes, Amazon, & Rhapsody.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blog roll!

Blog Roll!

Today's post highlights the blogs I read on a regular basis (other than this one, of course)

Feministing and Feministe take on news stories and pop culture with a feminist edge. I like both blogs because they have a team of bloggers which give you different perspectives, sometimes on the same story (contrary to popular belief, there's not just one monolithic scary no-fun feminazi philosophy).

Spectrum Beach is a blog I found via Feministe, written by a single mom raising a grade schooler and a seventh grader with autism. The unbelievable amount of bs she has to go through with her son's school system is frustrating, but it's also inspirational to find someone that dedicated to her kid. Doesn't hurt that it's injected with heavy doses of wit.

Not Always Right
is my crack. I've worked some form of customer service a good chunk of my life, so I can relate to the stories of crazy, weird, and horrible customers. For the rest of the world, read this blog daily and learn how not to act. (Here's one of my favorite stories from the site to give you an example.)

Neatorama is what would happen if my brain was constantly rss'd. It seeks out the neatest things on the web, from quirky news stories to cool new products. Most of it defies category, like a Super Mario manicure.

Enjoy! If you have a cool blog you think I'd dig, then post a link in the comments.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Love Books

I Love Books

What I hate are people that get all snooty about them. You know those book club people that read just to talk about something that everyone is talking about?

I've always been a reader, from the time I was 4 years old. Books have always been everything to me.

What I hate are people that desecrate books. By that I mean people that scribble inside and underline things. Take your pen away from that book or I'll smack your hands off. That's what notebooks are for. I always hated getting used textbooks that were marked up. (My profs never seemed to be the same as the past owneers) I hate it even more when its a novel.

That makes me so mad.

I think that's why I always took exception to the reading I had to do in high school. I hate analyzing and over analyzing novels. I read for enjoyment. That's not to say I don't like to discuss books, because I do. But I only want to discuss them with other people that like what I like.

I never liked dissecting other people's work just for the sake of the grade. I've always found it pretentious and it takes away the enjoyment of reading.

Plus, I always felt Moby Dick was about a goddamn WHALE!

I still get twitchy about Moby Dick.

What brought on this rant?

I was reading a book and it has half the text underlined.

Seriously folks, I would like to find the previous owner of this book and beat the living tar out of them.

I love book and I hate to see them treated this way. If you are going to scribble all over your novels etc, keep them in your possession, don't pass them off to a used book store.

Nuff said..I've got a book that needs reading.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Things That Annoy

Things That Annoy

There are a lot of things that annoy me, but allow me to concentrate on two today. There's plenty of time for me to rant and rave about the others.

1. You know those little plastic things that they put in women's clothes to keep them hanging on the hangers! These little pieces of plastic are products of SATAN! Rather than really helping with keeping my clothes on their hangers they spend most of their time poking out when I'm wearing the damn garments. And usually they are hard as hell to get out of the shoulders. Of course their obnoxiousness isn't revealed until after I've had the top or dress on for several hours and I'm no where near a pair of scissors. Just watching me trying to pull these things out is good for a few laughs.

What I really don't understand is why they make these things so long that they are impossible to tuck back away from the neckline easily.

I think it has to be a result of me not being able to have any joy.

2. People that are not open to new music. I openly admit I like to try new things and I can't understand people that don't. I also don't understand people that like Celine Dion and Britney Spears but that's another rant altogether.

The world is not full of great new artists. Most of the fantastic music out there is by artists on independent labels that you aren't going to see on Mtv (not that they play music there anyway) or hear on your average radio station. People need to stop thinking outside that proverbial box, and they also need to shut off American Idol. The show is shite (No not shit, but the British word shite!) Very little good has come from it and its too damn predictable.

Let's face it we all know Adam Lambert's album is going to be a hit in November and Kris Allen's is going to flop. Move along people. There's loads better to listen to than what Fox is trying to shove down your throat.

Please people! Try something different and maybe even step out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised!

I'm really looking forward to "Glee"

I'm really looking forward to "Glee"

Fox's new fall hit, Glee, is totally right up my alley, and I'm psyched for some serious fun this season.

The idea, if you don't know, is that an eager teacher and a group of theater misfits at a local high school band together to revive the school's glee club. They are absolutely ridiculed by the cheerleaders and their evil coach.

The grand finale of the pilot episode that they aired last season ended with a choral performance of "Don't Stop Believin'" which was possibly the funniest thing I'd seen on TV all year. Journey + show chorus = Penultimate Cheese. How can you not love that?

The second episode that aired last week featured the skinny white boy teacher singing Kanye's "Gold Digger," which I enjoyed much more than the actual song.

Now, I sang in the chorus in high school, but we sure never had anything this fun. I was totally a theater geek, and still am really. I sang along to the soundtrack to "The Sound of Music" all the way to work last week, so I am totally the target audience, but from what I can tell so far, I think it's the kind of thing that will reach out beyond their target.

Jane Lynch, who plays the cheerleading coach and the nemesis of the entire Glee program, adds tons of fun. I feel like she has been absolutely everywhere lately, but you'll get no complaints from me. The way she deadpans through her lines is completely hilarious.

The thing I like the most so far, though, is that the club really isn't that good. They show really well that they've got the talent and the heart, but since they're just starting up they've got a ways to go if they want to compete in the state competition. And I'm very much looking forward to watching them improve over the course of the season.

Pies & Pints in Fayetteville, WV

Pies & Pints in Fayetteville, WV

Yesterday, my hubs and I made a daytrip to visit his family, and his mom took me on my first trip to Fayetteville WV. Budget Travel magazine named it “America's Coolest Small Town” in 2006, and it's easy to see why. The outdoor gear stores, art galleries, and nifty shops aren't found in your typical West Virginia small town (I grew up with a bowling alley, a Wendy's, and a Goodwill - and that's it). A lot of that buildup is due to the region's whitewater rafting tourism boom in the summer, but it's recently begun to sustain itself in the winter months as well.

For dinner we went to a rad pizzeria called Pies & Pints. Let's countdown some of the things that made it so rad:

pizza from Pies & Pints (photo from official site)

  1. The Pies. Ohhh nyom nyom nyom! I had a black-bean pizza with salsa, my mama-in-law had eggplant with white sauce, and David had a regular pepperoni...with grapes! So good. Up until this point, the best pizza I'd ever had was in Platteskill, NY, but I'm pretty sure now that it's tied at the top.
  2. The Pints. Although I didn't indulge that night, I was in beer snob heaven. All my favorite brews and a good amount that I hadn't tried before. They also have Saranac root beer on tap (something I wish I'd realized at the restaurant and not at home, d'oh.)
  3. Good music. They played CCR and the Beatles the entire time.
  4. Bike racks out back.
  5. A family-style single-stall bathroom, which helps parents with kids (hence the name), people with disabilities that need assistance and are traveling with an opposite sex person, and trans people.

About a block away, there was also a newly opened ice cream and pie shop called Swirl, that also sold nifty little Archie McPhee type toys like rayguns and finger puppets. They even give you the option to top your ice cream with chocolate-covered Pop Rocks!

Other nearby attractions are the New River Gorge, Hawks Nest State Park, and my favorite kitsch wonderland The Mystery Hole. If you're ever near the area, check out Fayetteville for a nifty day trip, a fun distraction, and especially a decent pizza.

Pies & Pints Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another New Girl

Another New Girl

Hello! I'm Janelle, yet another newbie with yet another introductory post, but you might as well k now what you're in for with me.

I'm a 20 year old college student. I live about an hour south of Pittsburgh, PA, in the lovely Fayette County that most often makes the news for various forms of violence, drug busts, & most recently a mysterious wild cat (presumably a lion) that has been wandering my hometown. However, at least during the school year, I spend most of my time in the somewhat tamer city of Greensburg, on my small, quit college campus.

My major is writing with a focus in journalism & my ultimate goal is to get into music journalism. So, a blog based around pop culture in a perfect fit for me.

My tastes in everything are pretty varied so it's hard to nail down any favorites. Like Jenna, I am a huge fan of both Lost & Netflix. I'm also a big fan & supporter of the local music scene, so I'll be posting a bit about that.

I'm still working on my first real post, but I look forward to doing it & more in the future.

An Artist You Probably Haven't Heard About, But Should Have

An Artist You Probably Haven't Heard About, But Should Have

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite artists, Judd Starr.

Back Cover small For Web

Pretty isn't he? Don't tell him, but I often judge books and music by their covers and when I first saw the cover for Spirit & Skin I was rather drawn to it. Ok, so maybe I was drawn to his picture, but we're not telling him that, right?

The song Please Penny is the one that truly won me over. In fact, its a given that if I listen to this song once, its going to be put on repeat and will probably get played 50 times or until someone comes and yells that they are sick of hearing that damn song. Like you could get sick of it. I've often described Please Penny as a song Simon Lebon of Duran Duran only wishes he had written.

Judd has a marvelous way of channeling the 80s and then sprinkling something modern on top for good measure, which brings me to what I really wanted to talk to you about. It seems awhile back he recorded a version of the Bacharach tune; Always Something There To Remind Me with his friend Ryan.

You can listen to it on his Myspace

Its nothing like the Naked Eyes version that we're all familiar with.
The first time I heard it, I didn't think it was the same song I hear once daily on BOB.FM. In fact it sounds like Judd and Ryan were doing their best to sound like Depeche Mode.

Judd, first you upstage Simon Le Bon and now I find you've also upstaged Dave Gahan!

Take a bow! You have achieved greatness!

It baffles me that Judd's not a household name for several reasons:

1. He's immensely talented. Go to CDBaby and listen to the sound clips from both of his albums and be dazzled.

2. He's gorgeous. Now we all know that anymore this is the only reason about 99.9% of the artists on the airwaves get signed. Judd is gorgeous and he's got talent. Uh excuse me...why then is this man not known everywhere? Why am I not buying tickets to see him in concert? Huh? HUH!!

Further proof that anything that would bring me joy must not ever come to pass. (Sorry Judd, that my lousy karma is keeping you from playing one of the 7 layers of concert hell in Pittsburgh, PA)

So now you know one of the most fabulous artists out there. Buy his music. Tell your friends to buy his music. Convert the world! You can thank me any time you want for introducing you to this wonderful artist.

The greatest cupcakes you'll have all year

The greatest cupcakes you'll have all year

Simply Recipes is a great site for dinner ideas. Some of the recipes are more involved, but generally they're easy and they're always delicious. The Chicken with Goat Cheese and Arugula recipe is perhaps the greatest thing ever.

But that's not what I started talking about. Forgive me, I'm easily distracted.

A couple weeks ago, the featured recipe was for Double Vanilla Cupcakes. I am a sucker for cupcakes, and this recipe actually made me salivate. I went home that very night and whipped these up.

It's not a difficult recipe, but it is time consuming. It involves an actual vanilla bean, cutting it open and scraping out the seeds. I didn't even know such a thing could be done, so hey, you learn something new every day, right? You have to steep the seeds in milk, and the batter comes in three parts and I just kept thinking, "Dude. This had better be worth it."

And oh my goodness, was it. They are perfection. The cupcakes are moist, the frosting is just the right amount of sweet, and the vanilla is just heavenly. So if you have a little time on your hands, or a special event to prep for, do make a point to try these. You won't be sorry.

The n00b

The n00b

Hi! I'm Jenna, the newest of the newbies. I'm terrible at introductions, but I figured one was in order. Hate to just show up and start talking, that's kind of rude, eh?

I was born and raised in the wintry wasteland of Vermont, six miles south of the Canadian border. After college and a few years on the dwindling VT journalism scene, I got sick of being cold and moved to Savannah, GA. I migrated slightly north to Hilton Head, SC for a job. HHI is most definitely not my favorite place, but living five minutes from the beach does not suck.

I'm a bit of a space cadet, but only in a good way. I have an ever-shortening attention span and a tendency to get distracted pretty easily. Which makes pop culture the perfect medium for me, as nothing ever lasts for very long.

I couldn't live without music, and I wouldn't live without movies. I am looking forward to the new TV season, and I'm sure I'll have gone out of my mind by the time Lost finally comes back on in January. It's mean how long they make us wait for that. In the meantime, I'm catching up on shows I didn't get around to the first time with Netflix (i.e. the greatest invention of all time).

My first post is already written, and it's about cupcakes. Who doesn't love cupcakes?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Beatles To The Rescue

The Beatles To The Rescue

Happy Beatle Day! The Fabs have quite a lot resting on their shoulders today. The music industry has high hopes on these reissues breathing some life into a business that's so stale that quite a few new artists are happy to remain unsigned by major labels.

But will they be able to do it? Will they be able to top the recently deceased Michael Jackson. Its hard to tell. Unlike Jackson the Fab Four don't have a whole lot of scandal attached to them.

What they do have is a large catalog of brilliant pop music. But everyone knows that, even the naysayers that feel the band is over-rated.

The question is, will the people who bought the band's CDs back in the 80s when they were first available want to part with their cash in this lousy economy just to see if the remastering job was a good one? The boxsets will set you back $200 + depending on whether you are buying the stereo or mono sets.

Paul McCartney isn't strange, nor is Ringo. They don't have they mystique of a possible murder surrounding them. John's murder is long forgotten in the grand scheme of generating album sales. Just as Harrison's untimely death as a result of cancer is.

These guys have to sell their old material based on its brilliance alone, a brilliance that's never been denied them.

Will they be able to do it? If any band out there can, it would be them. They are the greatest rock band ever.

I'm just not so sure.

I'm not even sure I want them to do it. One band shouldn't have to breathe life into an industry that would rather place blame on piracy than on themselves. In the last 20 years the quality of music has gone down. Fewer and fewer albums are listenable from start to finish. I would rather see the industry resuscitated as a result of quality new talent than by reissues of old albums, however spectacular those albums were.

That is a pipe dream though. It won't happen.

So I can only wish The Beatles luck in trying to give the music industry a little mouth to mouth. If it doesn't work, someone send Paul to give me a little mouth to mouth!

Italian Sub Stoup*

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray


· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan

· 3/4 pound, 3 links, hot or sweet Italian sausage, split and meat removed from casing

· 1/2 bag of sliced pepperoni or turkey pepperoni

· 1 ham steak, diced (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound)

· 1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered and sliced

· 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, quartered and sliced

· 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

· 6 cups chicken stock

· 1/2 pound gemelli pasta or other short-cut pasta

· Garlic croutons or crisps

· Shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)


Place a soup pot or deep sided skillet on the stove top and preheat to medium high heat. Add olive oil, 2 turns of the pan and the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage, drain off excess fat if necessary then add the ham and pepperoni. Cook meats together 2 minutes then add peppers and onions and cook 2 or 3 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and bring stoup to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Ladle up the stoup and add the mozzarella cheese and several toasty garlic croutons in each bowl.

Recipe Review

After I made this recipe for my husband the first time, it quickly became one of his favorites! It’s pretty simple and quick to make. The most time consuming part is “chopping” up the sausage in the pan so the chunks are smaller. I changed Rachael’s original recipe a bit to make it a little easier. I also do not put in the green pepper – I don’t want the flavor to take over too much. Also, I buy 3 small ham steaks from our local market as it is a little less expensive, and you are just chopping it up anyway. You could buy the kind that’s already chopped up if you need a time saver. The garlic croutons soak up the liquid, and really add a nice touch of flavor to it. I love garlic and put it in almost everything.

I give this recipe 5 out of 5 stars!

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 25 min

Level: Easy

Serves: 4 servings

*If you are not familiar with Rachael Ray’s “terms” that she makes up, a stoup is thicker than a soup, and thinner than a stew.