October 30, 2008


Have I mentioned before how important it is to me that every human being in this country votes? It is in the Top 3 things of 'What I Care About' - it's like: Family, Friends, People Voting. Seriously.

Here are three videos about that very subject - don't worry, they're totally pop culture related:

Apparently TI has a song called 'Whatever You Like' - These kids turned it into a song about voting 'however you like'. Sample lyrics: Obama on the left/McCain on the right/We can talk politics all night/And you can vote however you like/You can vote however you like, yeah.

Here's an interview with some of the kids - really inspirational stuff from a group of 6th & 7th graders:

Celebrities get involved! A lot of them - probably one for each member of the alphabet: Ashton, Benicio, Courtney Cox, Demi, Ellen...I really could keep going...

Make sure to watch from at least 2:10 on with this one:

October 27, 2008

Don't do it to me!

It's no secret that relationships are fickle business in Hollywood. Equal parts fickle and business. After having my heart kind of broken by the likes of Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Williams/Heath Ledger, Ryan Phillipe/Reese Witherspoon over the years, there are a few couples I've really come to rely on.

Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith: We see them out as a family unit more than most, and with one of those kids being from a previous relationship, they're really a great example of the New American Family.

Faith Hill & Tim McGraw: Both wildly successful in the same field, and completely gorgeous, yet seemingly down-to-earth.

Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick: Child stars grow up to find one another and go through some serious career ups and downs (See how that works Madonna & Guy?).

Amy Poehler & Will Arnett: The couple that laughs together stays together, right?

Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins: Marriage isn't the only way to commit, and as far as Hollywood relationships go this one's the motherlode. Super liberal (and willing to put their mouths and money behind it) and I don't really know who is more successful. Honestly, if they ever break up, I might never recover.

So, while I'm really rooting for you Gwyneth & Coldplay, Ellen & Portia, Ashton & Demi and Heidi & Seal, these are the couples I really need to stick it out, for the sake of believing in melding personalities, ups and downs and good ol' chemistry. Please?

They pay you for this?

As I discovered yesterday, it is someone’s job at Jillian’s/Lucky Strike to turn music on during commercials of the Patriots game. No, seriously. Dude goes to work at, say, 12:30PM on a Sunday. Sits at a table in the middle of the bar with his own personal HD TV of the football game, a laptop and some massive headphones, and spends a few hours ensuring classics like ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ and ‘Crazy B**tch’ play instead of commercials. Serving a dual purpose: Making me realize just how insanely many commercials there are during football games. And, making me wonder (say it with me now!): Why is this not my job?

October 24, 2008

Movie Review: Rachel Getting Married

In ‘Rachel Getting Married’ you join a middle-class Connecticut family for the week leading up to the younger sister, Rachel’s, wedding. To describe it that way brings to mind wedding planners and bridezillas and an east coast version of ‘Father of the Bride’ where the whole point is to throw the perfect cookie-cutter wedding where the groom is irrelevant and all that really matters is who catches the bouquet. But in actuality, ‘Rachel Getting Married’ is the beautiful, heart-wrenching, almost flawlessly told story of a family:
  • There’s the big sister – she’s screwed up.
  • There’s the younger sister, who’s getting married – she loves her big sister as only a sister can, somehow unequivocally supportive yet totally judgmental.
  • There’s the father – he takes care of his daughters the best way he knows how, with food and money.
  • There’s the stepmother – she stepped into this family when it was at its most broken, and silently holds it together.
  • There's the mother - she's barely present, but her daughters feel her everywhere.
  • There’s the fiancé – he knows and loves the big sister even though he’s never met her, and has this relationship with his father-in-law that’s based on jokes and just a little amount of tension.
  • There’s the younger sister’s best friend – she’s been there through it all, and can’t quite muster the sister-like supportiveness, so she's just judgmental.
These are characters that make so much sense, it’s like you’ve met them before. You know this family. There's one particularly true-family moment that has stayed with me: Everyone (the family and a slew of bridal party friends) are cleaning up after lunch, and a competition arises between the father and the fiancé about how to properly load a dishwasher. While being timed, they each take a turn, throwing dishes around, rinsing them off, loading them up – it’s crazy and loud and fun and there’s cheering and laughter, until somewhere in the middle, the father is reminded of his son who has died. The family instantly senses it, and everything gets quiet; the outsiders pick up that something has changed, whether or not they know what or why. And everyone leaves the kitchen, leaving Kim – the older sister, played by Anne Hathaway, who had inadvertently caused this turn of events – sitting on a stool. Her sister’s fiancé is leaving the room, and he stops behind her and puts his hand on her back for just the right amount of time. He doesn’t try to talk, and he doesn’t do this gesture as an afterthought. He's saying “I don’t know you that well, and I’ll never be able to grasp how much you hurt right now, but I see you, and I am sorry.” It was perfect.

The beauty – and power – of this movie is that it throws you right into the middle of all these characters’ lives with little to no exposition, so it feels authentic. You’re participating in this week. You are at that rehearsal dinner: laughing along with the inside jokes you understand, appreciating that someone else gets the ones you don’t, getting to know this family the way you get to know your future in-laws. There’s one scene that felt too expository – we had been hearing about a tragedy involving the sister’s brother ‘Ethan’. I feel like the specifics weren’t necessary to grasp what it did to this family, so when Anne Hathaway tells the story – in the scene they’ll probably show when she’s nominated for an Academy Award – it feels slightly out of line with the rest of the movie. But with that one exception, there’s a lack of a 4th wall that feels organic, and the occasionally jarring hand-held footage lends itself to that.

Music is a motif throughout, with some pretty beautiful scenes, the most lovely of which is Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio, who, as Rachel’s fiancé, sings Neil Young’s ‘Unknown Legend’ acapella – solely to his bride though he’s in front of dozens of people – during his vows.

I’m getting a little teary-eyed over here. So let me just move on and jump on the Anne-Hathaway-Was-Amazing-And-Oscar-Caliber train.

It’s not that I’ve seen her in all that much, or particularly relate her to her ‘Princess Diaries’ persona (Really – even though those were Disney movies, the whole idea was that she was kind of alternative and un-princess like. Plus, with ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Devil Wears Prada’ – it’s actually like we’ve been talking about how impressive it is to watch her be outside of her comfort zone for longer than she was in that comfort zone. Of course, I may feel differently if - I mean after - I see ‘Ella Enchanted.’), but I was blown away by her, as she completely disappeared inside that character.

8.5 Twix bars. Go see this movie. Seriously.

October 23, 2008

My problem with Pavement.

In junior high, I stupidly joined BMG Music Club to get like 1 million CDs for the price of 7…or something. This literally was the only reason I had any CDs at all during the formative years of my life. Highlights include: The Cardigans (Which I bought because I thought they were The Cranberries), Brandy, Bush and…a gem called School House Rocks, which featured bands I’d never heard of doing covers of the “Schoolhouse Rock” songs.

I know that as any kind of indie rock person, I need to love Pavement. But every song I ever hear by them – and Stephen Malkmus solo – just makes me think of this. See, watch:

It’s a problem.

October 17, 2008


I cannot believe that new things are happening in the world of Dillon, Texas that I won’t know about until JANUARY.

I Want That Job

I would like to introduce a new segment that we’ll call “Jobs That Should Be Mine.” (It’s so important, I’m capitalizing un-deserving words.) Alternate title/tagline: WHY IS THIS NOT MY JOB?

1) I originally thought of this idea when I saw this book at the LAX airport: A book about travel, random facts and movies? WHY IS THIS NOT MY JOB?

2) PopWatch writer on EW.com.

Poor Trevor, to whom I send countless links every day for an entry that I particularly relate to. Most of the time, because they express thoughts that I have had. Like:
I got an email from one of my coworkers tonight saying this may have been the best Office episode ever. And while I have to respectfully disagree with that assessment (I'm going "Office Olympics", if not "Christmas party"), I will go out on a limb and say it was the most Office-y Office of all time. You kinda got it all: ambiguous conference room party, awkward dialogue, hysterical behavior, circumstances so heightened it's unlikely they'd occur in the realm of reality, and a painful gap between Jim and Pam. (We'll get to that at the end.) Whether it totally satisfied as an episode depends on your personal tolerance for all those things.
Seriously. Parenthetical writing. Opinions about 'The Office.' Rambling sentences. WHY IS THIS NOT MY JOB?

More to come, I’m [unfortunately] sure.

A lesson for us all.

I've been seeing this book displayed prominently around book stores for years:

And I somehow got in my head (without reading the description on the back) that this was a modern book, that would fall under the category of "smart" chick lit - something light. I bought it a few months ago on Half.com (the world's greatest invention for book buyers), and this morning grabbed if off the shelf thinking: The last 2 books I've read have been fairly deep/intense - I could use a break; I will read this quickly and still have time to finish the TBD Book Group selection for November.

First page: An air raid takes place in Paris, 1940.

Ummm...what is going on here?? I turn the book over and read the following about its author:

"When Irene Nemirovsky began working on Suite Francaise, she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown."

Well, crap! Now, all of a sudden, I'm knee (okay, maybe ankle) deep into a...Holocaust book?? Not exactly the light-hearted break from Virginia Woolf I had been seeking! Don't judge a book by its cover indeed!

October 16, 2008

An Ode to Pumpkin Beer

Oh pumpkin beer, how fleeting you are.
I wish you could stay around past the fall
Your sweet aroma, and lasting taste
Never a single drop do I waste.
I dream of you – No, really I do
As I wait for Billy to announce it’s true:
‘The keg is tapped – this one’s for you.’

You’re organic and fresh and locally made
I wish I could have you every day
But, truly, you are worth the wait
(Can I find a way to rhyme satiate?)
Great Pumpkin Ale, you are without peer:
Though you come around just once a year
You are by far my favorite beer.

Where you BEEN, boy?

I really must apologize for the lack of quippy blog entries over the last week or so. Between baseball depression, in-law visits and one mind-blowing hangover, I just haven’t had the time to really devote to inane analyses of random pop culture happenings (Oh yeah, and I have actually been busy at my Day Job too). So let’s just go through a quick wrap-up of the last week:
  • Madonna and Guy Ritchie: Really guys, REALLY? You spend all this time insisting how happy you are and then announce your divorce right as Madge’s tour kicks off? Please tell me I’m just being cynical. Please. And if this has anything to do with A-Rod, I will seriously barf.
  • Spoiler Alert - Don't highlight if you care about/haven't seen Project Runway's S5 finale! Leanne wins 'Project Runway'!
  • John McCain, I hope you and Joe the Plumber are very happy together.
  • Did you know that the 'Real World'’s Randy, who I totally had a crush on during the only season that I was a regular RW-Watcher, will be the “Celebrity” guest at this year’s BYPA Halloween Party? I can’t decide what’s more embarrassing – that they actually consider him a celebrity, or that that’s almost enough to convince me to go (The 5 free drink tickets don’t hurt.)
  • Mini-book review: ‘To the Lighthouse’ was totally not as painfully slow and awful as the first 30 pages would have you believe. I stuck it out, and I’m glad to have.
  • I like Eminem's new single. Please don't tell Trevor.
  • I’m glad I’ve decided to give ‘Fringe’ a chance. What is WITH JJ Abrams’s obsession with creepy bald men?
  • There is only one week left before the season finale of ‘Mad Men.’ If you have not begun watching this show, start catching up now.
  • Oh my god, I really did not realize that this new, looks awful, 'Crusoe' thing NBC has been pushing is a TV SHOW and not just a made-for-TV movie, making the entire rant I had planned about 'The Odyssey' moot. But, gross, and also - Crusoe is completely the poor man's Eric Stoltz:

That’s all for now. How was YOUR week?

October 15, 2008

Good morning!

I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is my little buddy, Conversation Starter.

Picture this: It’s 8:15 in the morning. You’re relatively new at your job, and terrified of going into the kitchen where you know you’ll have to interact with people. Just grab this handy little fellow, and march in there with head held high, ready for the conversation starters to come flying at you:
“I looooove your mug.”
“What a great mug!”
“I need one of those!”
“That’s so cute!”
The beauty of this is that you can respond with a simple “Thanks.” But, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can make some comment about how he helps you get your morning started – everyone loves talking about how much they need caffeine.

Someone might even begin regaling you with a story of how they too used to have a mug much like this. Don’t reply with sarcasm: “Oh really? You went into a CVS in 2005?” Instead, ask them which face they had, and enjoy a little lively banter about the Grumpy Face versus the Happy Face and what this might mean about your differing morning personalities. And then, next week, when the same person starts the exact same conversation with you again, you can lead with the sarcasm.

However the conversation starts (and, oh, it will), when it starts dying off, your mug will be full and off you go, with a hearty "Good luck!" (Another tribute to the 'Arg, don't we all hate mornings' common ground).

Seriously. This is the best 99-cent gift I’ve ever received, and it makes the two years I spent employed at the personal injury law firm totally worth it. Thanks Paulina!

October 9, 2008

A question.

Do song titles matter?

I’m wondering, because as I have been obsessively listening to the new Ben Folds album over the last week, I realized this morning that I had no idea what most of the songs are called (This is totally par for the course for me – Trevor’s constantly asking me about song titles – um, and artists – to songs that I know all the lyrics to, and more often than not I cannot [correctly] answer). And as I realized that one song that I was in the middle of was called ‘Cologne’, it changed the entire way I was thinking about what it meant.

Before it was about the painful disintegration of a relationship:
Four, three, two, one,
I'm letting you go
I will let go
If you will let go
Now, there’s a why and a how: “Here in Cologne, I know I said it wrong…” makes this later verse so much clearer:
Such a painful trip
To find out this is it
And when I go to sleep
You'll be waking up
Perhaps I would have eventually gotten it without knowing the name of the song. Because music is really all about absorbing meaning through lyrics and notes, right? I mean, how often are you sitting with the track list of an album in front of you while you listen to it? Mostly, you’re making dinner or cleaning the apartment while your stereo plays, or walking around with your iPod firmly tucked into your pocket. And even at concerts, only a couple songs are typically introduced by name. So how relevant can a song title really be?

But on the other hand (my internal debating self has three hands), isn’t song meaning really all in the ear of the beholder anyway? Maybe you hear this song, knowing the name of it, and still take away an entirely different meaning.

Extra layer of meaning, simple lyric support or entirely superfluous? I’m just not sure!

October 8, 2008

Blowing my mind

I LOVE Queen Latifah. Like, I want to go on girl-dates with her and drink beer and paint our nails and talk about how awesome Steve Martin is, even though that movie they were in was terrible, and how awesome Jimmy Fallon is, even though that movie they were in was terrible, and about how awesome LL Cool J is, even though that movie they were in was terrible, etc.

But seriously, Queen Latifah is a black, overweight woman who is massively successful worldwide musically, comedically and dramatically. She is world-renowned for her beauty, and not in a plus-size kind of exception way. She is amazing and hilarious and on my top 10 of people I would like to meet because I am completely sure that she is that great in person too (As opposed to say, Christian Bale, who I feel like I would meet and then hate and would that ruin ‘Newsies’ forever?).

Okay, with me so far?

I have been avoiding mentioning this, because I don’t want to be a name dropper. It can no longer be helped.

That guy? In the back? Is Ryan Eggold, the guy from the new, not-too-great [YET] ‘90210.’ And we went to high school together (We did drama together. A lot. In fact, my first kiss came in stage-form from him. Just putting it out there.). Anyway. I have not spoken to him in 5+ years, and it has been beyond weird watching him get marginally famous. In fact, I kind of wish that we hadn’t been friends, because I am literally only continuing to watch this new '90210' to be supportive.

But I’m wondering if he would like to reconnect so that he can take me to events where Queen Latifah is. I promise to be on my best behavior and never embarrass him, even while guzzling the free champagne (because there’s always free champagne, right?).

Okay Ryan, so here we go. I would like to meet the following:

1. Queen Latifah (Please tell me you interacted with her.)
2. Will Smith (He was probably there too, wasn’t he??)
3. Seth Green (It's not that big of a stretch - He & Peter Facinelli, Mr. Jennie Garth, must stay in touch, right?)
4. Any member of the cast of ‘The Office’ (Roy does not count.)
5. John Cusack (I can provide my own boombox.)
6. Ellen Degeneres (I love her so much, I don't even have anything sarcastic to say.)
7. Natalie Portman (We could talk about Boston and vegetarianism and being really short!)
8. Alyson Hannigan (Please don’t be with Wesley, please don’t be with Wesley.)
9. Neil Patrick Harris (Preferably not the ‘Harold & Kumar’ version-of-himself.)
10. Hilary Duff (We could totally sing Blondie together.)

If you can make this happen, just let me know.

XOXO (I will not even talk about how that show is so much better than yours. Actually, maybe you could get a crossover role - If they ever actually go to class, they'll totally need teachers.),


October 6, 2008

Why I Hate Stephen King

I’ve been given some flack over the years for my distaste of Stephen King. But things have recently gotten out of control, and I must state my case once and for all. First, a disclaimer that you are free to use to claim my argument is invalid:

I have never read a “real” Stephen King book.

I’m not really a thriller person. But even though I haven’t read the work that made him famous, I’d be crazy to not have some respect for him, what he did for the horror genre, etc. And, yes, it was absolutely terrible when he was almost killed in that hit and run accident.

That being said, I have read this, and I have been forcefully fed different variations of this over the last 2 years since Mr. King became a guest columnist in Entertainment Weekly. What drives me insane about him is that he relies on His Relevance essentially as his thesis, explaining nothing and giving no big picture insight. I am supposed to think he’s interesting (and correct) because he’s Stephen King.

His latest entry in EW is the epitome of what I’m talking about, and this is where I draw the line: Why I Love ‘Prison Break’. I honestly thought this was a joke. It’s like a third grader’s book report (I read “Superfudge.' It was good. It taught me that it’s okay to not always like my sister. The end.), except that it’s authored with some kind of authority by supposedly one of the most respected literary minds alive.

When a writer is given an “extracurricular” forum, doesn’t he/she have a responsibility to use that power for good? To show that good language transcends format, and demonstrate the power of words by doing? (See: Dave Eggers. And how interesting that his Wikipedia page doesn’t even mention 826 Valencia.) But, instead, Entertainment Weekly pays him to share with us such illuminating opinion pieces as: “Cool and the Gang” (Billed as: "Stephen King sizes up who's cool...and who's not.") and “Stephen King’s Guide to Movie Snacks.” No, I am not making this up.

I long ago got in the habit of just flipping past the guest commentary page when I saw his photo – but I now might have to make it a habit to tear out the page and throw it away. Because now that he's offered an entire column devoted to "a rough summary of Our Story So Far, concocted not with help from the usual Internet sources but from my own little Break-obsessed head," really, what illuminating insight could possibly top it?

And btw, Uncle Stevie – as you insist on referring to yourself – you do not speak for Red Sox Nation or the Average Baseball Fan (We don’t do this or this …or this), so please stop pretending you do. (This research led me to another infuriating piece of self-promotion. Enjoy.)

Movie review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

I had really been looking forward to this movie, and it didn’t disappoint.

From the trailers, I thought the movie was about them (Michael Cera & Kat Dennings as the title characters) knowing they wanted to be on a date, but having to fight through some pretty standard obstacles (drunk friends, ex-significant others, a yellow car people keep mistaking for a cab) in order to do so. So, it was a pleasant surprise to get to watch Nick & Norah actually work to get to know one another.

We have 2 main characters, surrounded by a wacky supporting cast – in this case, gay bandmates, a drunk best friend, a slutty ex-girlfriend and a mooching ex-boyfriend. It’s not a revolutionary plot, but it’s pulled off without pandering. In fact, it’s refreshing:

Refreshing to watch a movie about indie rock that doesn’t hit you over the head with how hip it is. Refreshing to hear teenage characters speak in normal sentences (To take absolutely nothing away from Amy Sherman-Palladino & Diablo Cody). Refreshing to have gay characters that are pretty well-rounded outside of their sexual orientation. Refreshing to have a female lead who is normal looking (she even has some meat to her!). But mostly...

Here’s the requisite spoiler alert warning...

The plot itself is refreshingly realistic. Sure, aside from the uniforms in that first scene, I have a hard time seeing my high school experience in what was depicted on screen, but I think know enough about Kids These Days to know they will relate – even if they don’t spend their Friday nights scouring NYC for an indie rock band.

It’s on one of those Friday nights that ‘Nick & Norah’ takes place. I have a thing for movies that take place all on one day and though ‘Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ is more ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’ than ‘Before Sunrise,’ where it succeeds is [ironically] in its finiteness. We don’t have some bold declaration that these two will live Happily Ever After at the end; they’re just going to go home, start dating and see what happens – My, how perfectly appropriate for a pair of 17-year olds! And that’s a refreshing end to a romantic comedy.

Movie review: Melinda & Melinda

I wish that I had experienced film before Woody Allen. Because as a somewhat aficionado of the romantic comedy genre who just happens to be born in the 1980s, I have never known a world where Allen’s “revolutionary” take on the man/woman relationship/psyche wasn’t repeated in every other movie that comes out. Think: Dialogue fit for the stage, including rambling monologues, drives to the Hamptons and a tangled web of urban-dwelling friends and their sexual forays.

So it’s from this perspective that I found 'Melinda & Melinda' perfectly enjoyable, if not just a tad tired. The script could have been written in 1970, Melinda could have been played by Diane Keaton and Will Ferrell was 100% channeling every sex-crazed, neurotic character Woody Allen has ever played. Even the clever ploy to show 2 sides of the same story felt fresher in ‘Sliding Doors.’ All that, combined with the forced narration via pretentious New York artistes in the form of Wallace Shawn, et al – it just felt so done. (Side note: It’s this very feeling that had me really hoping that Allen’s ‘Match Point‘ would be as breathtaking as critics would have had you think a couple of years back. Was he finally going to try something new?? But, he didn’t – he made the same movie, just with creepier music.).

So, eh. I think I’ll stick with ‘Annie Hall.’ 6.75/10 Twix bars.

Rally monkey, rally monkey.

Dear Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Please pull yourselves together. Tonight, please focus on:
  • Having a starting pitcher go more than 5 innings.
  • Providing that starting pitcher with some run support.
  • Not making dumb base running errors.
  • Remembering that this is the playoffs.
  • Running for balls in the outfield (It would also help to call them.).
  • Playing baseball. Remember last night (this morning), when you scored a run by: Single, Sacrifice bunt, single? That is what you need to do. Don’t worry about the lack of extra-base hits, or swinging for the fences – focus on playing BASEBALL. Like you did when you won ONE HUNDRED GAMES this season.
I'm sorry, I don't mean to yell. The curse is over. I know you can do this.


October 1, 2008

Man of the Month: October

Wow, I had a hard time choosing a Man of the Month this time.
In honor of the MLB playoffs starting and the awesome fact that the Angels are totally going to break their god-awful postseries record versus the Red Sox: Should I choose Garrett Anderson, who I loooove?
But I’ve also lo[ooo]ved him since I was 12, and that kind of creeps me out.

The Office is back. I love you, Jim.
But I’m a little worried about your motivation for the Big Thing That Happened Last Week (Spoiler at the end of that link).
I would love to honor one Mr. Tim Riggins, as his show - among the best on television - is returning to air, and that’s a big deal.
But I won’t get to see it until January, and that’s too sad to draw attention to. Seriously, who even has DirectTV?

Ed Westwick. Oh Charles Trout. How can I not admire your penchant for ascots and shorts? But it’s really the fact that you’re actually British and were totally in the 'Son of Rambow' that has you in contention here.

But, I’m just not sure it’s enough – your eyebrows are out of control, and your storyline on Monday was lame-O.

In my attempt to think about a non-TV contender for MotM, I ran through my less-than-stellar recent movie viewing record and remembered the theater-wide swoon that came out when this came onto the screen during 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.'Seriously. Wow. But, dagnammit, he has been on 'Greek' this season, and can never really overtake Cappy in my heart.
So instead of awarding any of the above (All of whom have something to prove over the next month – they don’t need the extra pressure), I would like to acknowledge someone who’s really been there for me over the years.

This one’s for you, Taye Diggs – Because ‘Rent’ is closing on Broadway, because this was amazing...

...because your successful (?) show is returning to TV, you & Idina Mendzel are really adorable and because sometimes it hurts to look at you because you’re so pretty.