Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hey guys, remember Snowmaggedon? No?

You know what I'm getting sick of? People calling this recent bout of spring weather "cold." (and maybe this is just an "in my area" rant, so bare with me.) April = spring, so 50s and 60s are normal, not cold. You're thinking of summer, which is two months from now.

It's barely been a month since it snowed here. I remember everyone desperately praying for a day over 30 degrees. Now the snow's gone, and everyone's back to bitching when it gets sorta chilly. Seriously, are our attention spans that short now?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: Jen Lancaster - Bright Lights Big Ass

I'm generally not a non-fiction kind of girl when it comes to reading. I like chick-lit, I like romance and some good paranormal books, but for the most part, non-fiction to me would be a cookbook. Then I discovered Jen Lancaster.

I discovered her books a few months back and I really wanted to read ALL of them. She writes snarky humor about her life. I knew instantly that I'd like her, and when I finally got a copy of Bright Lights Big Ass, I knew I was right, for the most part.

Jen is snarky, a little goofy, often mean, which means she should be my new best friend. However, she's a Republican. That kinda made me sigh sadly as right now, I prefer to distance myself from all of that breed of politician. Oh and she admits to reading Ann Coulter. Ewww.

However her attitude and her life in general make for good reading. OK, they make for more than good reading, they make for good laughing. If you don't want people looking at you funny, don't read this book in public, because you will laugh out loud.

Some of her issues will really have you shaking your head and some will have you nodding in agreement, especially her issue with nudity in the spa. You really have to read it appreciate it.

There's too much funny to go into, but some of the things she talks about are Rachael Ray, her temp jobs and her neighbors. Pretty normal stuff, eh? But not with Jen.

This was one of the funniest books I've read in ages and I still wouldn't mind having Jen as a friend, as long as she didn't talk politics.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Movie review: The Notorious Betty Page (2005)

Trigger warning: review may have triggering sexual language.

I debated whether or not to make this a "One from the Vaults" column and decided against it. Despite being about 50s pinup and bondage queen Betty Page, it's a pretty un-exploity (and pretty standard) IFC-worthy biopic. It's a great story shot with stunning cinematography and vintage editing tricks.

The movie starts with Bettie growing up in rural Tennessee right outside of Nashville. She's constantly catching the eye of the guys in her town and ends up marrying a high school classmate before he ships off for WWII. After a series of pretty terrible events (including childhood abuse and a gut-wrenching rape scene), she goes to New York to be an actress.

She meets a photographer/cop on the beach and quickly becomes a successful pin-up model. Her stint in camera clubs (1950s dudes with cameras that use some jargon that allows them to take nudie photos without getting arrested) brings her to Irving Klaw, who reinvents Bettie as a bondage model and skyrockets her career. She has a good rein as the Pinup Queen of America before it all crashes down, forcing Bettie to reinvent herself again.

I love love love two things about this movie. (1) it was written, directed, and produced by women (2) they used some great cinematography tricks to make it look like a movie from that era: John Ford-style scene fades, crisp black and white, 8 mm camera grain, and vivid Technicolor when Bettie goes to Miami.

I also liked the messages of the film. One of the themes that popped up was unexpectedly about spirituality; Bettie firmly believed that you shouldn't let anyone else define your beliefs and that you can still validly call yourself Christian when other people condemn you for what you do/ who you are. (Bettie Page's thoughts on God are pretty interesting, from what little bits I've read)

Another message that dovetails into that is Bettie was never regretful about her pictures and seemed to see it as a way of giving back. She kept hammering in the point that the people who were into the not-so-vanilla pictures of her were "nice guys," a contrast to the extreme sexual violence she experienced growing up. It presents an interesting debate about what the public at the time (and hell, even now) considers "good urges" vs "bad urges."

Honestly, this would be a hard movie to blanket recommend. Like I tagged the review earlier, the film has some material that could definitely be triggering. It's also hard to recommend to just anybody based on the subject matter alone (ie, I'm not going to tell your grandma to watch a biopic that has nudity and riding crops).

But that aside? If you're interested in Bettie Page, about pop culture or censorship in the 1950s, or are even just looking for an interesting movie based on real life, I not only urge you to rent it, I say buy it. Just like how Ms. Pinup described her own career, it's a lot more fun than sitting in an office for eight hours.

Final Verdict: 9/10

buy The Notorious Bettie Page on Amazon

Restaurant Review: Rock Bottom, Homestead, PA

Rock Bottom is a slightly upscale chain of restaurants that specialize in good food and microbrewed beers. This past Sunday I took my Dad to the Rock Bottom @ The Waterfront in Homestead.

The menu in the place is across the board, from Southwestern specialties to comfort foods. My dad opted for comfort food, choosing the Chicken Pot Pie and I had a Santa Fe Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken, which came with a nice garlicky dinner roll.

The Pot Pie was huge and full of large pieces of potato and veggies. It was obviously good, because I was pretty sure my dad was about to lick the plate. Thankfully he has good manners and didn't do that.

My salad was phenomenal, with lots of corn, black beans and the most wonderful tempura-battered Anaheim peppers. The crispy chicken was just that, but also moist and delicious.

As for the beers, you definitely want the house brewed beer. I had the seasonal wheat and it was superb. My father had the North Star Amber, which he enjoyed as much as he did the pot pie.

I've been to one other Rock Bottom before, in Cincinatti, and aside from differences in the beer, the atmosphere of the place is also different. Pittsburgh's Rock Bottom is more posh, whereas the one in Cincy is a bit more "sports bar" even in the dining room area.

This location is definitely a great date night restaurant, even if the date is your dad. It isn't the type of place you frequent weekly. Its a bit to pricey for that. The pot pie was $12.50.

This is definitely a place for special occasions or when you want to treat yourself, unless, you have the dough to toss around.

You can check out the menu and find a location at

Rock Bottom on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 26, 2010

Comedy Review: Craig Ferguson Palace Theater, Greensburg, PA 4/24/2010

There are very few comedians that I'd pay $50.00 or more to see. Craig Ferguson is one of them. I'd even pay $129.00 to rent a car so I could feel safe driving to the venue that's only about 25 miles from my home.


The show started rather late, thanks to the Palace not being able to get everyone seated in a timely manner. Sheesh! Perhaps they should have had a last call at the bar, because I've never been to the theater when it took that long to get everyone seated, but maybe that had to do with the size of the crowd. I'm pretty damn sure it was sold out or close to it.

After sitting through an opening act that wasn't nearly as funny as I hoped it would be, we finally got Craigy...and some dancers. Woo hoo. One such dancer was wearing black leather shorts playing a flute. Woo hoo! And the hilarity begins.

Craig is one of those men who can simply be funny, just by being, if that makes any sense and his stand up plays out nicely like one really long monologue only he's not wearing a suit. Nope he's not. He's wearing a lovely pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a leather jacket.

Ladies, its hard to drool and laugh at the same time. Just to let you know, in case you are going to see Craigy any time soon. Its something you'll have to try to perfect though, because between stories about sex scandals, his home life and his discussion on how he likes to cuss, well, its safe to say the drool buckets will be needed. Mr. Ferguson is a good looking guy. Actually he's a good looking, funny guy, who makes the song Oops I Did It Again a whole lot more entertaining.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Look Who's Late to the Great Movies Party. Again.

When you're in high school & a critically-acclaimed movie comes out - say, The Constant Gardner for example - you pretty much don't care because it sounds a little bit boring. I mean, really, who wants to see a movie that at its heart is about - minor spoiler - shitty pharmaceutical companies? Obviously, people who aren't in high school that do things that don't involve malls for fun.

But I'm in college now & I'm a journalism major, which obviously means that now I like said film.

So yeah, that means I finally watched The Constant Gardner five years too late. As usual. But at least I know now how good it is, right?

Honestly, what's not to like? I mean, it's not a feel-good, upbeat family movie, but everything it does it pretty much does well. In writing classes, we're taught that flashbacks are bad, & much of the background & characterization we're given through flashback, but it works really well. I'm all about characters, getting to know them, & actually giving a damn, & really, the story wouldn't work at all if we weren't made to care about not just Tessa, but Justin, as well.

And on that note, Rachel Weisz & Ralph Fiennes are both fantastic in this. No wonder Rachel, especially, got so much praise for this.

It was filmed on-location in Africa, & when the cast & crew were done, they set up a trust for the slums they were filming in, which is pretty awesome. The Slumdog Millionaire creators did the same thing (and I saw that when it was in theaters so no worries there).

And now I have to go out & read the book.

Well, that & see everything else I found uninteresting at 15.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sandwich Review: Dunkin Donuts Flatbreads

Flatbread sandwiches aren't just for breakfast anymore. Dunkin Donuts, home of crazy wonderful coffee, has some great lunch flatbreads, which rocks my world because egg whites are just not my think. I like my yoke and cholesterol thank you very much.

So seeing as I have a super shiny new Chevy Cobalt for the weekend, I decided to drive up to Dunkin' Donuts and get my dad some sweets and a sandwich and coffee for me.

I have one thing to say about the Turkey Bacon Cheddar Flatbread is "YUM!"

I'm also saying that after bringing the sandwich home after a 12 mile drive. So the sandwich wasn't nice and warm as it should have been, but I didn't want to eat in the teeny tiny shop. I wish I had, because if this sandwich was that good lukewarm, I can only imagine how good it would be nice and hot!

There are 3 other choices for lunch, Chicken Parmesan, Grilled Cheese & Ham and Swiss. If it weren't so early in the day I think I would have tried the Chicken Parm, which looks really good.

If you get the combo, you have a choice between Iced Tea and Iced Coffee. Dunkin' is known for their coffee, so I opted for the coffee with cream and a shot of raspberry syrup.

I will be awake for days now. This is good coffee!

I'm always searching out cheap eats that I can get fast. This is definitely one that fits the bill. I can't wait to try some of the other sandwiches. I may even be brave and try the egg white ones, but I'm not promising anything!

Dunkin Donuts on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 23, 2010

An Interesting Breakdown of the Music Industry

I'm not going to sit here & act like I don't download music. I did a speech on the subject last semester & a lot of people agree that, at least for huge acts, downloads don't hurt the industry all that much & that not every single download equals a lost sale - it's more like ten downloads to get to that point. And frankly, some music out now isn't worth the price labels want you to pay for it. But I'll let the breakdown speak for itself.

Apologies in advance for the huge pink circles. You'll see what I mean. It's out of my hands.

Now it's not 100% accurate & also doesn't account for touring, merchandise sales, & the new pay-what-you-want trend, but it's interesting to look at.

I will say, though, that you should totally support indie artists & your local scene. Because they do need the money & are more than likely worth it, too.

Personally, I download then buy the album if I like more than a few songs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turn Off Week

This week is TV Turn Off Week. What is that? Its a week of no TV thought up by a bunch of idiots that think TV is bad and is rotting our minds, making us fat and a host of other nefarious things.

Its funny. The way my TV schedule is, I could actually do it, as most of my shows are in reruns right now.


Have a look at the website for TV Turnoff Week here.

Now I'm not saying that the idea is bad, but the group itself are a bunch of wingnuts. Eliminate TV?

I'm sorry there's not that much amusing stuff to do in my neck of the woods. Plus some of their suggestions don't fit into a busy person's life. I don't know about you but when I get home from work I'm usually tired.

Here are some work week suggestions of things to do when you have your TV shut off.

1. Catch up on your sleep.

2. Visit a library and then READ!

3. Clean the house.

4. Take the family out to dinner.

5. Teach your kids to do the laundry, so that you can do more of #1.

6. Turn on the radio and try to discover some music that isn't crap!

7. Do some gardening.

8. Get to the gym.

9. Discover how long it takes for a family conversation to turn into a family argument.

10. Read the TV listings to see what you are missing because you have to TV shut off this week.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Later Alligator (Revisited): Wheeling, WV

This past Saturday, my friend Jen and I stopped by Later's down at Central Market again to try some different crepes.

Once again I was wowed by the total awesomeness of the food at this tiny little place. I had a Southwestern concoction, whose name I can't remember, Jen had Pesto Chango. You have to love the "Pun-y" names the place gives to the food.

My crepe was full of egg that seemed to lay right against the pancake, omelette style, white rice, black beans and salsa. The combination was wonderful. It certainly wasn't anything I'd come up with to fill a crepe, savory or otherwise.

Its impossible to leave without sampling a dessert crepe, and of course, we did. This time our crepe was filled with unsweetened ricotta cheese and topped with fresh berries and powered sugar. It was light and fluffy and full of the "Om nom nom nom...AHHHHHHs."

Later's offers up many sandwiches as well, most are bigger than the customer's head, but its so hard to get past those crepes! Plus the crepes are pretty reasonable @ $7.95. Two people can eat crepes have a soda and split a dessert crepe for around $30.00. Not a bad deal. Plus, there just aren't many restaurants that specialize in sweet and savory crepes. These aren't your IHOP pancakes (and I have nothing against IHOP).

The other thing I love about this restaurant is the mascot; Aldo Gator. How can you not love a 'gator who wear's Converse?

So if you happen to be in Wheeling, and you're hankering for a fantastic pancake, you have to to the 'gators! After all the motto is "Eat Or We Both Starve!"
Later Alligator on Urbanspoon

The More I Watch, the More I Like

Anyone else watch V? And if so, is it just me or does it seem like it gets better every week? Like it's getting more & more intense. As well it should be. I mean, really, we're talking about crazy aliens, here.

I admit, I didn't watch the original. For starters, I'm too young. And even though SciFi (I will NOT call it SyFy because it's dumb) aired the whole thing back in the fall, it was bad timing for me & even though my little brother watched basically the whole thing, I didn't have that luxury. But I will get to it eventually. I've heard some complaints that too much is different or they're moving way too fast, but I imagine it's a little difficult to take something that was more of a mini-series & adapt it for an hour-long weekly TV show.

I just liked the fact that it's pretty solid science fiction. It's also pretty clear that ABC is trying to get Lost fans on board, but most of us - unless we have reason not to - get on the internet or talk to anyone else nearby who will listen. Anyway, there's a lot to like with V. It's about aliens but the aliens are all pretty attractive, so it doesn't feel like you're watching an alien show. Plus there's plenty of personal drama & violence. Most bases are covered, here.

I also love that we've had more than one Firefly cast member, & that Krycek from The X-Files is making guest appearances at the moment. I want more of him. I love seeing Nicholas Lea playing a character that's not a villain (or at least, doesn't seem to be).

I'm interested to see where it's going & how long they can make it last.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Must Drink: Coconut Mocha Frappe

I don't know when I became a fan of fancy coffees. Actually I don't even know when I became a fan of coffee. It just sort of happened one day. I love trying new concoctions from places like Starbucks and Joe Muggs.

Today I was in Wheeling, and when I'm in that town I always stop at Books-A-Million. That's one of my favorite chain book stores. Well, Joe Muggs has really got a winner with their Coconut Mocha Frappe.

This wonderful drink has just the right amount of sweet coconut flavor and coffee flavor. It doesn't just taste like a really sweet brown drink with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top. No, you can actually tell that its a coffee drink!


But that's the thing about Joe Muggs. Their coffee is fantastic, especially when it comes to fancy flavors.

In the autumn, they did a caramel apple latte that was simply to die for. I had the ranked at about number 2 on my favorite coffee scale.

The Coconut Mocha Frappe is pretty close to number one.

Its definitely a must try on a hot summer day. But do you know what? Its not bad on a chilly spring day either.

Kudos to Joe Muggs!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Personal Entitlement to Public People

Last weekend I saw Ben Folds in Pennsylvania, and it made me wonder about our expectations of the artists we love. Some chatty, kind of annoying high school kids behind me were waiting outside to see if Ben would pop out and do a meet & greet. When he didn't, they called him "a big meanie grouch" (no, seriously, direct quote) and left.

Now, I know they were just being goofy and flippant, but this rubbed me the wrong way. The man just played a 2+ hour concert for you until his fingers bled. Literally. During shows he has to tape up his fingers so his fingernails don't gush blood. So he doesn't owe you a damn thing beyond that. If he wants to say hi to his fans, all the better, but goodness know he's probably wore the fuck out.

But that got me to wonder, what is an artist's obligation to their fans? Is it enough to put art out into the world, or do you have to make an effort beyond that? And how much effort is too much?

I really dig an author named Francesca Lia Block. I don't so much dig an author named Chuck Palahniuk. But the both of them are well known for interacting with their fans. A lot of ladies in the late 90s had starry-eyed stories of getting positive, praise-filled letters when they sent her their personal zines. My friend Erin wrote Palahniuk a fan letter, and he sent her a pretty heavy box of trinkets.

I think that both of those are super cool, and I'm definitely a fan of artists giving their fans that little something extra. The problem comes when fans start expecting that shit and getting indignant when they don't receive that treatment. Or, worse, when they hold other artists up to those same expectations. Just because Artist A hung out with you before the show, that doesn't mean Artist B has to do the same, or that Artist C is a sellout for not doing that.

There's also the issue of fans having preconceived expectations of you based on a couple of interviews, or worse, a character you play. I got that in a tiny dose when I did Rocky Horror for a few years. Teen boys never knew my real name (which I guess was a bit of a relief) but would swarm me in public to hang out with Columbia. Sometimes it was cool, but sometimes I just wanted to get a mocha and not talk about Rocky Horror for ten minutes. Occasionally, I'd have to teach these guys terms like "personal boundaries" and "sexual harassment." Just because I can tell you crass jokes at a midnight show doesn't mean you should start the same jokes when I'm having dinner with my family. And just because the character I play is "the groupie" doesn't mean I appreciate groping in OR out of costume (no, not even if you're gay, because it most certainly does still count. Misogyny isn't just for straight guys.)

So how much interaction is enough? Too much and you have no personal life, too little and you're a "snob" or a "rockstar."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big Ben = Big Butt Munch

I'm a huge Steelers fan. It really is a requirement if you live in the Pittsburgh area. Actually I'm pretty sure you have to love sports or pretend to if you want to live anywhere near the city of Pittsburgh.

But lets get on to the matter at hand; Big Ben, super asshole extraordinaire it seems.

2 sex related lawsuits in what? A year? With mentions of a 3rd incident?

Excuse me, but Benji, you need to keep it in your pants and you need to lay off the booze, because you are obviously a bad drunk.

The headlines today say the NFL may punish him soon. I think the Steelers should punish him first. I know he's under contract, but dammit, buy him out...kick him the fuck off the team. I'd rather have a few losing seasons with a respectable quarterback than having to wonder what this guy is going to do next.

When he got their first Super Bowl win in years, he was a boy wonder. I even had a #7 shirt that said "I love Ben."

That shirt was sent to Goodwill a few weeks ago.

I don't love Ben. I don't love his arrogant attitude and I don't like his behavior either.

I hope the Rooney family kicks his ass from here to eternity.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Have You Seen The Nook?

I'm totally fascinated by eReaders. Barnes and Noble has a new one out, and it has some really awesome features. It can hold up to 1500 books and if you need more memory, a simply SD card that you'd use for your camera will work to add additional space for more books...or wait for it...MUSIC!

Check out all the features here.

I've never really been tempted to buy an ereader, but the multi-tasking abilities of this one are wonderful.

Plus it would be great for exercising on the treadmill etc. I love to read while running. I'm crazy like that.

If I ever suck it up and buy an ereader, I think the Nook is going to be my choice.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kate Gosselin Brings Another Train Wreck to TV

Alright, I watch Dancing with the Stars. I spent seven years of my life doing ballet, so you show me professional dancers & some celebrities I'm interested in & I will watch it.

Every season, there are inevitably one or two celebrities that are terrible, & usually they get the boot pretty quickly. Sure, there have been some who overstayed their welcome, but none as horrible as America's favorite, original octo-mom, Kate Gosselin.

Like I said, I'm a former ballerina, so I know a girl who's just going through the motions when I see her. I get it, Kate, you have eight kids & can't invest the kind of time & dedication to learning a dance, or even really putting in an effort, that others can. But that begs the question: why the hell would you sign up for a dance competition that's known for long, physically exhausting hours to begin with!? Aside from the obvious desire to stay in the tabloids, of course. I'm convinced John & Kate Plus Eight helped ruin her marriage, & I'm also convinced that at this point, she's just trying to play on all of our sympathies, & I'm not buying it anymore. She's the worst dancer on the show right now. She needs to go. The only one deserving of sympathy right now is her poor dance partner.

The one good thing? Jimmy Fallon does a spot-on impression of her "dancing."

For the record, I'm rooting for Evan Lysacek.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Best Fast Food Breakfast: Subway

I am so glad Subway tossed their hats into the breakfast arena again. They have some of the best breakfast sandwiches out there and you have many different options. Oh and they are pretty cheap.

Right now, there's a special on the muffin melts. You get the sandwich and a coffee for $2.50. That's a sweet breakfast. You get the choice of any of the muffin sandwiches and there are 5 or 6 of them and a coffee. Plus your choice of veggies. Mmmm. And the egg can be regular egg or egg white.

And if you are hungrier you can have your breakfast sandwich on a flatbread or sub bread.

Mmm. Nommy!

Now I don't know why the breakfast sandwiches have been getting rather lackluster reviews. The egg, is a hundred times better than that rubber thing, McDonald's slaps on the muffins. None of the meats used are greasy and all the breads are pretty tasty.

I had the Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheese both mornings this weekend. One day on the flatbread and this morning on the muffin and I have to say, it was better than anything McDonald's serves.

Oh and the coffee is Seattle's Best.


If you can't get near a Panera, Subway is the next best place to pick up a quick breakfast!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fingers Crossed

I was a huge fan of the first Nanny McPhee film. I love Emma Thompson and Colin Firth is just too pretty to not make any film worth watching in my eyes.

I have to admit though that I was surprised when I saw that a sequel of sorts was being made.

This film is called Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.

Again the film has some lovely eye candy in the form of Ralph Fiennes and Ewan MacGregor.

The film is out in the UK already. I believe it will show up in the US sometime around the 20th of August.

The official site with the trailers can be seen here.

If it is half as good as the first one I will be thrilled.

Friday, April 9, 2010

One from the Vaults: Whiskers

There's a delightful feature with my cable called On-Demand. Most people use it to catch up on TV shows they've missed, not realizing that a delightful treasure trove of crap lies just within their reach. The free movies section is a grandiose collection of 80s horror, 70s exploitation, and simply uncategorizable head scratchers.

Whiskers falls into the last category. It's a Canadian made for TV kids movie about a boy whose cat best friend turns into a creepy man in a hoodie through the power of love and pagan idol worship. On the surface, it's your average talking animal movie, complete with clueless parents and musical numbers. You'll need to dig deeper for its true horrors.

Whiskers tells the tale of an emotionally stunted little boy named Jeb, who is on the fast track to Norman Batesville because he can't connect to people his age and can only talk to his cat Whiskers. In fact, he's pretty darn obsessed with cats in general. His parents, who have already voiced their opinion that their kid is a nutjob, try to tell him - SPOILER ALERT - that he's going to have a little sister. Somehow the kid processes this as "We're going to get rid of Whiskers, chump," and freaks out.

While at a cat museum with his dad, the kid makes a wish on a statue of the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet to turn Whiskers into a Real Boy so he could still be with his BFF. Bastet makes some 90s CGI happen, and the next day, Whiskers is human! Only problem is Whiskers has aged in cat years, so while Jeb was expecting a boy his age, Whiskers has become a 30 year old man in a brown hoodie.

So Whiskers teaches Jeb all the typical kids movie crap - how to have fun, make friends, and confront bullies - and even has a musical interlude with the world's 2nd catchiest white boy jazz song about cats as Whiskers introduces Jeb to his cat homies. Jeb, meanwhile, has to help Whiskers find his mother in a B plot that suddenly appears when the movie should be over.

Brent Carver, the actor playing People Whiskers, won a Tony for Kiss of the Spider Woman, so either he really believes in this project or has some gambling debt to pay. I hope it's the latter, because the former raises some serious eyebrows. Sure, any kids' movie with a person playing an animal is going to be awkward, but unlike Quigley, which had Gary Busey pretending to be a dog by acting like Gary Busey, this awkwardness gets into creepy territory. Whiskers ends up next to Jeb in bed too many times for me to be entirely comfortable with this movie. And unlike the parents in Goobie, who just seemed negligent with their psychotic son's maladies, these parents seem to take some kind of unnatural glee in fucking with their kid's head.

I can't recall as much batshit crazy stuff from this movie as I'd like, and I'm afraid I can't reference you to a place where you can see it. The internet only has faint traces of it - I couldn't even find a poster for it -and Amazon simply knows it exists. I just assumed it was a fever dream until I found screen caps.

This is the epitomy of the crappy sort of programming from On Demand, which is why you need to scope it out. In the words of Cinderella (the metal band, not the kids' movie), you don't know whatcha got til it's go-o-one. I doubt they were talking about Whiskers, but it applies well enough here.

Breast Cancer Awareness

If you are anything like me, you hate stupid emails that make you feel like shit and ask you to forward them to 80 bazillion people in your address book.

I never do it. Unless of course its a super funny email.

This one picture was enough for me to want to share. Plus as a woman that's already had issues in that front, I say hell yeah. Find a cure! Find it now! We've lost too many wonderful women to this disease.

So listen to the baby's t-shirt, would ya!

Oh yeah, and ladies, have your mammograms when your doctor recommends it, be it at 40 or 50. Your life is too precious, and the test IS NOT SCARY or all that painful.

This One's for the Music Junkies

You know how in High Fidelity, they make lists upon lists of basically their top 5 everythings, or how over at Andrea's Music Memoirs meme we make a top 5 every Friday? This is just like that, except in actual journal form.

I give you Music Listography. Your life in playlists. About 70, actually, waiting for you to fill them in. Everything from the things we already have worked out in our brains (top 20 favorite bands) to the typical (a page each for favorites of the 60s, 70s, 80s, & 90s) to things you've never considered before but doing so is fun anyway (songs you'd strip to). Each gets its own page, giving you 20 blank lines to fill with the names of 20 glorious songs. And if you're anything like me, you'll deliberate & get mad because you have way more than 20 favorite songs, & limiting to 20 just isn't fair, damn it!

It's also illustrated. The "Top Favorite Male Vocalists" section, for example, has a delightful drawing of Freddie Mercury & the "Best Soundtracks" list has that lovely bunny from Donnie Darko. When I first got it, I looked at all the pictures & lists in one sitting.

How did I find such a gem? It was my Christmas present from my cousin (she read my blog & I suspect got the idea in part from the aforementioned Top 5). Why am I mentioning it in April? Because after she ordered it, it didn't get here till last month. I've done a list a night - give or take a few nights - ever since. Tonight, I did "List Bands That Should Not Have Broken Up." For tomorrow, I have "List the Music Your Parents Listened to When You Were a Kid" waiting for me.

I love this thing. I love it so much that I occasionally go back & make changes to previous lists, I'll be bummed when I'm done, & I plan on buying one for another music-loving friend. When I die, I expect - nay, demand - whoever plans my funeral to use the "Songs to Play at Your Funeral" list as a guide.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why Oh Why

I was talking to someone online about classic rock artists and it fired up an old rant of mine dealing with the music industry.

I hate that artists that have been around for more than 10 years get little opportunity to record new music unless they are huge names, like U2, Paul McCartney or Madonna. I admire the lesser known artists that have been around for ages that still want to work on new music.

Tommy James has had new material out in the last 5 years as well as The Buckinghams, two artists that had hits in the 1960s that still enjoy touring and making music for the fans.

Why is it that when you've been around the block a few times, the industry says, no, just stick with the hits. The Moody Blues, a favorite classic band of mine, now has more compilation albums than studio albums. Probably more than the studio and solo albums of its members too.

That is just ridiculous. These guys are still good songwriters. Why can't we get new material by them? Why do we have to content ourselves with remasters and best ofs that have the same 12 songs on them!

Why is it that music must only be for those people in that 18-30 age bracket? I can assure you that many people older than that, myself included, still enjoy music, purchase it, and go to concerts.

Even Elvis Costello is starting to fall victim to this. His back catalog has been remastered more times than I can count and the most recent remastering happened only a matter of months after Rhino Records finished a spectacular remaster on his entire back catalog. Now he's releasing a serious of live shows on CD. Ho hum!

Any day now I expect to see them degrading themselves by being a mentor on American Idol. I won't even go into the horror I felt when Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits succumbed to that show. Grrr.

I want my classic artists to get some respect and recording time damn it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Album Review: Earl J. Rivard - Underground Railroad

If you break out of your comfort zone once this year to listen to a new artist, let that new artist be Earl. J. Rivard. It will only take one track for him to grab you and pull you into his world. His voice is full of passion. This is a man who could sing the phone book and people would stop and listen.

When you listen to Underground Railroad, you get to experience the full range of his vocal talents. Earl sings songs from many genres—folk, blues, and pop, to name but a few. It is impossible to pick a standout track on Underground Railroad, as each track is so impressive that comparing them somehow seems wrong.

“Lady Sweet Lady” shows Earl singing a Celtic-sounding folk song. The acoustic guitar and flute arrangements on this song are particularly beautiful. When you listen to this song, you’ll feel like you’re listening to a ballad from days of old, when actually the song is one of Earl’s original compositions. In fact, all the songs on Underground Railroad are written by Earl, his father Earl Jr. or the two of them. It doesn’t take long to realize that these two men are excellent songwriters. But songs are nothing without a voice to sing them—and with Earl J. doing the honors, these songs are taken to a whole new level of beauty.

Earl’s voice is so deep and soulful that it is hard not to be moved by it, especially when he’s singing songs of love. “Yours Eternally” has a vocal that is reminiscent of Josh Groban. Earl’s voice soars as he conveys the song’s romantic message.

Turning the tables is “Sometimes Love,” a song that deals with the cooling embers of love that once burned brightly. The lyrics are a haunting reflection of how delicate love is, and how easily it can be shattered and broken if not tended to properly. When Earl sings, “Lovers need to understand, that to keep the love they’ve planned, they must learn the raging blaze to tame. For a fire can cool within the hearth or blow up in a burst of sparks,” that delicacy becomes apparent.

One of the strongest songs on the album is the title track, “Underground Railroad.” Written by Earl Jr and Earl J. Rivard III, the song is about laws that separate a child from their mother because if born in the United States, they are citizens but their mothers are not and are often sent back to their native lands, while their children can remain. The song manages to convey all the right emotions: anger, disgust, sadness. It starts with a preface that may offend some listeners, but the truth really shouldn’t offend.

The bluesy rocker “This Time Around” shows a more playful side to Earl’s music. This song has an infectious beat that calls out to everyone to get up and move. It is the least serious of the thirteen tracks that make up Underground Railroad, and it really showcases Earl’s versatility as a songwriter as well as a performer.

When you listen to “Unfinished Songs,” you instantly feel like you’re listening to a lighthearted pop tune, but give it another listen, and really listen. When you do, you’ll hear a song about the struggles of having something to say, but not being able to find the voice or words to complete the thought. The song is made even more poignant when you reach the abrupt ending.

With Underground Railroad, the world can see the many facets of Earl’s talent. You will hear the voice that will instantly capture your heart with its power and emotion. You’ll discover the songwriting ability that will impress even the harshest critics. This is one voice and one album that must be heard!

Visit Earl's website here to learn more and to watch for information on the release of Underground Railroad.

Austin's Ice Cream: Ceredo, WV

Certainly not meaning to echo the sentiments of the abstinence-only crowd, but sometimes it really does make things better when you have to wait for them. Sure, there's all kinds of not-quite-ice-cream fast food joints in town that are open year round, but only one is worth waiting six month for, and that's Austin's.

Austin's Homemade Ice Cream is a little roadside stand tucked away in the corner of the interstate - drive fast and you'll totally miss it (and get pulled over, as the speed limit is 25). The first thing you'll probably notice is a line of cars crammed into spaces that almost look like a parking lot.

Austin's hand churns all of their flavors on site and features about 30 season-long with a few month-long seasonal flavors. They have your typical ice cream varieties - vanilla, strawberry, rocky road - but also get creative with flavors like grape pineapple, amaretto crunch, and bubblegum. They also sell hotdogs with some pretty awesome chili (though if you're going to West Virginia, it's called "hot dog sauce," not chili).

About the only drawback is that they're cash only. I know that's common in bigger cities' roadside stands, but it's kind of an anomaly here. Still, it's a very small inconvenience for some epic ice cream.

Austin's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 5, 2010

TV Review: Good Luck Charlie

Last night saw the premiere of another Disney Channel show. Good Luck Charlie is probably not the greatest show they have, but its definitely one that everyone can sit down and watch.

Remember the TGIF days of ABC? Well this show may not be up to shows like Full House or Family Matters, but its definitely in the ball park with them. Its cute. Its funny. Oh and since its on Disney there's no sexual innuendo spilling over into each and every joke.

It features some actors and actresses that you will have seen before on Disney, like Bridgit Medler who plays Teddy Duncan. She was the vampire on Witches Of Waverly Place. Jason Dolley who plays big brother PJ was in the Disney TV movie, Hatching Pete.

Its only downfall is that Bridgit sings its theme song, which means that sometime in the grand scheme of the Disney mind-control, Bridgit will have an album. After all, we can't have a Disney show anymore that doesn't feature a star that is also Radio Disney friendly. Perish the thought!

That said, for the time being, Disney has managed to pull off a show that's funny without being too sickeningly sweet, like Full House was in its day. Oh and did I mention its on Sunday nights? The veritable wasteland time for TV, so it is in fact one of the only "good" things on.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor

Matt Smith is not David Tennant. He's not drop dead gorgeous. He's not crazy assed emo and he's not wearing a pin stripe suit.

All that aside, Matt Smith "IS" the Doctor. He stepped into the role that David Tennant exited in January with ease. He still has a quirky sense of humor and he still has an affinity for female companions it seems, but from the looks of it, Amy Pond, probably isn't going to be humping his leg right away in this series.

I won't give any spoilers to "The Eleventh Hour." You'll just have to watch, but I will say, Stephen Moffat has given the show new life. He's taken the "emo" out of the show and for that, I applaud. 10 wasted a season with an awesome companion being whiny about Rose Tyler. I'm glad that Rose is sufficiently gone. I hope that Amy stays with him throughout his tenure as the doctor, as did many of the companions in the "Classic" series.

Karen Gillian, who appeared in The Fires Of Pompeii, is a great companion. She's not besotted with "The Doctor," at least not yet, and hopefully not ever. She's actually a bit annoyed with him at times and that makes for some good laughs. Her boyfriend Rory Williams was a bit amusing and I'm sure will be used in a few episodes, much like Mickey was with "Rose".

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at how well all the new actors fit into the show, but then again, The Doctor is a chameleon. Yes, David Tennant, is my doctor, but Matt Smith is now "the" doctor, and I think he's going to do a damn good job in the part.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Do You Think You're What They Say You Are?

Because its Good Friday.

Carl Anderson was probably the best voice of Judas Iscariot. The world is truly much emptier without his wonderful voice.

And favorite song from the musical and I dedicate this post to the Catholic Church.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Where Did The Happy Go In Music?

I listen to a lot of oldies. My radio dial is set to 99.3 Classic Hits The Pickle much more than it should be. I like the innocence that comes from the music of the 60s and 70s. Sure there were angry protest songs then, but the pop music was so much simpler and sweeter then.

Listening to The Beatles and The Monkees, Gordon Lightfoot or Three Dog Night never left me feeling glum or angry.

I'm not saying there's no happy music out there, because there is. That's why Erasure and Mika will forever be favorites of mine. Their music will always bring a smile to my face.

But as I was listening to the radio this morning I heard C'mon Get Happy. I mean, that song is sweetness personified and it really shows that even in an era that was less then stellar that there was some innocence left. Is it all gone?

There's more maturity in the music from the prefabricated pop-tarts that Disney tosses out then ever before.

Why do songs have to be about all the horrible things in the world, or why people are treating other people badly? Couldn't we remind ourselves of some of the good things out there? Life isn't really that bad!

Maybe I'm just a Daydream Believer...