Archive | January, 2013

The Best Karaoke Jamz

28 Jan

I live in Japan and karaoke is nothing short of an art form here. You have private rooms with a phone in them so you can order drinks without leaving, there are instruments in said rooms to encourage you to let your inner Stevie Nicks out and play the shit out of the tambourine, and everyone sings — even people that are ear-splittingly tone deaf. I have spent countless hours in karaoke rooms listening to and singing with all manners of music for the past year and a half and now I bring my findings to you.

This is how karaoke should make you feel.

This is how karaoke should make you feel.

The best night of karaoke should start off like sex — you need a good amount of foreplay — you can’t just start up with Sweet Caroline or Total Eclipse of the Heart — you work your way up to it, you ease your way in. You want to start the night with stuff everyone knows the words to – it gets the crowd going and builds enthusiasm for what is to come next. Steer clear of anything that is too slow, too depressing, or too weird to start out.

I recommend going back into your middle school and high school years and picking popular songs that everyone knows the words to by heart (even if they are ashamed to admit it).Here are few good songs to start your night and get the place bumping.

Best Karaoke Foreplay

The Spice Girls – Wannabe:”Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
So tell me what you want, what you really really want, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I really, really, really wanna zigazig uh!” Whether you went to boarding school in New Hampshire, public school in PA or some weirdo hippie charter school in California – you knew and loved The Spice Girls in junior high. My friends and I went as them for Halloween in 8th grade and it was the best! And the faux rap part that Mel B. (Scary Spice) does in the middle of the song is pure gold. So slam your body down and wind it all around for this awesome song.

spice girls

Salt n’Pepa – Shoop: One of the greatest songs ever and also a relatively easy song to rap (this is also good if you’re already pretty drunk). Everyone knows a LOT of words to this song and if you brought your bff with you to karaoke – you can impress everyone with how often you’ve practiced rapping to this on your road trips. Bonus points if you have a guy friend who can rap the gentleman part — it really sells the song. Also, getting to yell “Girls, what’s my weakness?!” and having the whole room shout back “MEN!” — is amazeballs.

Say My Name – Destiny’s Child: Another winner from my high school days. Remember the video with the different rooms that were different colors and DC’s outfits perfectly matched each room? Aww yeah. I think I officially joined the Beyhive with this song. Perfect for a group of gals and if you are particularly talented – you can harmonize and really impress people.

Build Me Up Buttercup The Foundations : There was a reason there is a sing-along to this song at the end of There’s Something About Mary and that reason is that it’s fucking awesome.

Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi :No one hates Bon Jovi when they’re drunk. No one hates this song and no one will hate you when you headbang and sing about Gina and Johnny. You are even allowed to play air guitar to Richie Sambora’s sweet licks. No judgement from over here.

Raspberry Beret – Prince : If you wanna kick it old school funk and impress the ladies – then whip out the man who gave us such songs as Pussy Control and Let’s Go Crazy and give everyone your best Prince impersonation. Impress us even further by showing off your falsetto and hitting those high notes.

Okay – now that we’ve gotten our juices going (karaoke juices — gross you guys!) it’s time to kick it into high gear. Songs to sing along to, to intensely and embarrassingly emote to, etc.

I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing – Aerosmith: Remember when Armageddon was THE movie of the summer? And Michael Clarke Duncan was still alive (too soon?)? And Owen Wilson was a relatively unknown actor? And Aerosmith had the biggest hit song of the year? Yeah? Me too. It was great. The picture below is of a whole group of people from all over the US who all feel the same way. Look at the vocal straining, the eyes being closed, the fists being balled up. This song brings these emotions to the table and brings us back to a time when Ben Affleck was part of Bennifer and not a director of Oscar nominated movies.

We were all scream singing Aerosmith here.

We were all scream singing Aerosmith here.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston: I have never met anyone who does not want to sing along to this when it comes on at karaoke. Bonus points if the person singing it can actually sing.

Anything by Cher – (shhh — it’s the inner queen in me — it can’t be helped)

Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks : Maybe it’s my rural central PA upbringing but this one makes me want to put my arms around everyone and sway in a drunken circle as we sing along to this with our best country twangs.

Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill or Changes – Tupac: These two songs are late night jams that will get everyone rapping along. First – was there ever a more magical album in high school than The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (the answer is NO!). Second – TUPAC..nuff said.

Say It Ain’t So – Weezer : This is a great choice because instead of a guy in a backwards baseball cap and a hoodie playing this on his guitar on someone’s front porch at 3am when you’re walking home from the bar in college – YOU get to sing this without looking like a douche canoe.

Other classics that I won’t give lip service to here – You Oughta Know, Summer Nights from Grease, Love Shack, Sweet Caroline (I know it’s overplayed but I love Neil forever and always), most of the Fleetwood Mac catalog

Songs that Surprise in the Best Way – There have been a few times when a song will pop up on the screen and I think “Interesting…let’s see how this turns out” and I’ve loved it and so has everyone in the room.

Careless Whisper – WHAM! Or really anything by WHAM! or George Michael

Anything by Hall and Oates

What’s Up – 4 Non Blondes : One of my personal faves because as I could never tell if the lead singer was a man or woman I feel it’s comfortably in my low alto range. And I like screaming “I said HEY, what’s going on??”

Space Oddity – David Bowie : You can perfect your British accent as you sing this. And everyone gets to count down from 10 during the song. I like counting, what can I say?

This is How We Do It – Montell Jordan: Everyone knows the words to this but it somehow was never elevated to the karaoke status it deserves. It’s balls out awesome. Trust.

Promiscuous – Nelly Furtado ft. Timbaland : The best duet I’ve ever seen was between a lady and gentleman who knew all of the words to this song and didn’t even need to look at the screen. There was also some hilariously bad dancing (think MTV’s The Grind style moves) that went along with the performance. Top notch.

500 Miles – The Proclaimers : Made even better if you can do this with a passable Scottish accent or if you actually are Scottish.

Songs That Make Me Want to Punch You in the Throat:

Anything by Evanescence

It’s All Coming Back to Me Now – Celine Dion: Yes, I have done this song and brought down the house, but if done without the proper panache and skill it turns into something truly awful. This holds true for the whole Celine Dion catalog – which is probably best avoided.

Like a Prayer – Madonna: Great song….until you realize how long it is and that you don’t have a gospel choir to back you up.

American Pie – Don McClean: You are a dick. This song is about 8 minutes long. I could have sang three Beatles songs in the same amount of time.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen: Just ugh. Not original – I actually put Don’t Stop Believin, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and Wanted Dead or Alive in this category too. Shit’s overplayed y’all.

Creep – Radiohead: I always feel like I’m being a stranger’s therapist when I hear this at karaoke. Seriously, get your shit together or go pay someone to listen to you be creepy.

Anything death metal/too slow/depressing/bad duets/people who can’t rap but choose a rap song (oh hey drunk college aged white girls)

Now You Have My Recommendations. What do you think? What are your go to karaoke jams?

Best and Worst Concerts, plus Shameless!

23 Jan

Disclaimer: I am a little hesitant to post this, as it may hurt the feelings of one of the most dear people in my life. But I hope upon reading this that instead of feeling betrayed, she will see only how much I love her by this confession.

Well, we should start with the best, right?

Pearl Jam featuring Neil Young (October 1, 2004) – In college I went to a lot of Pearl Jam shows but nothing compares to the show when we were reallly close, in a tiny arena and Neil Young showed up as a surprise guest. Unbelievable. It was during the “Vote for Change” Ten Club (PJ’s fan club, of which I used to be a member) tour, so the venues were really small and personal and fucking sick. Death Cab for Cutie opened and I remember thinking that was a weird band name and Tim Robbins also showed up (I saw him working a voter registration table when I came out of the bathroom, that was unusual). I took this picture and I’m still excited about how awesome it was! Sadly I apparently froze when Neil was there bc I don’t have a pic of that, loser.

Tim and Eddie 2

Live 8 (July 2, 2005) – One of the greatest days I can remember. I remember being drunk by 8 am (we took the train in at 6am), dancing for 14 hours. AND I never needed to pee once, which was a serious feat as everyone either had to decide to pee in a bottle with people holding up a towel around them or take the trek through the huuge throng of people to go to the porta potties and that took a minimum of an hour.  I had so many awesome friends around me, I was drinking Lemonade and Banker’s Club, Brad and I were “talking” and all was right with the world.  Looking back at the lineup, some of it was really terrible, but at the time I couldn’t have cared less. I will now attempt to list them in order from worst to best (I’m obviously looking this list up on wikipedia. Also leaving out the country acts, which I can explain on another day)  from kill me to FUCK YEAH!

Rob Thomas, Black Eyed Peas (they got it started, how original!), Jars of Clay, Linkin Park, Maroon 5 (somehow they ended up on both the best AND worst lists), Sarah McLachlan with Josh Groban (Angel? really? talk about a buzzkill), Bon Jovi (fun, honestly), Destiny’s Child, Def Leppard (Pour some sugar on me was my favorite song to play while pouring beer on my own head. ah, youth.), Alicia Keyes (I don’t actually remember her there. I think I may have passed out for a little bit in the middle, to be honest), Dave Matthews, Will Smith (Switch was the tune and it was actually pretty fun to dance to), Kanye (who’s this new up and comer!?), Jay-Z, and last and most – Stevie Wonder

Seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as happy and joyful as I felt when Stevie Wonder played Superstitious and I was dancing my ass off with like 30 of my friends, 22 and drunk on the Parkway. Great decision, great day, some awful music but overall experience 10/10.

101_0229

This picture is totally not from Live 8. But it was the same year and pretty much the exact sentiment.

Robby Grote (November 26, 2012) It started out as pretty much the most awkward show I’ve ever been to and ended up on this list.  I brought my friend, and we walked into a tiny room with about 25 kids – it felt like a youth group meeting. We sat on the floor in the corner and felt like total weirdos for being there, and she was ready to kill me (I don’t blame her).  And then the music started and the walls came down and it was one of the best musical performances I’ve ever seen.  At one point I realized I was holding my breath, covering my mouth with my eyes bugging out and my heart was pounding.  We drove home with the music as loud as it could go singing at the tops of our lungs and it was one of those highs that are rare and magical and the reason I’m addicted to live music. And this kid’s ridiculous pipes.

Districts3small

Bob Dylan (November 11, 2001) Maybe he was really old and sang a few recognizable lyrics to unrecognizable melodies but damn, he’s Bob Dylan. I was in awe. We were really close to him and I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I grew up with a serious Dylan lovin’ mom and listened to him since I was born and held him up as a god and BAM! a real person. Right there.  My mouth hung open and I was just so glad that I got to be there. I’m still glad.

youngbobdylan

When I saw him he didn’t look anything like this, but a young Bob Dylan picture is always a treat, so you’re welcome. Especially you Maggie, your love for young Bob Dylan is the purest.

Honorable mentions: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Goin’ to California and Tangerine… swoon),  Woodstock 99 (I was 16 and I met a beautiful tall blonde boy and kissed him in an airplane hanger during Moby in the middle of the night and it totally made up for having to pee in a resealable Cheez-it bag in my tent and having nothing to eat for 3 days. I love you Rose!), DMB (during high school, our friend would rent school buses and about 50 of us would take them down to the stadiums to tailgate all day and it was really awesome. How we all got away with that I will never know because we were all very underage and sloppy but it worked like magic!), Tom Petty (robo-tripping. That shit can’t be good for you, but Petty was great), Phish (that’s quite a marketplace), Weezer (the cutest super emo boy standing next to me held my hands and danced and sang every word with me told me he loved my glasses and asked me for my number, but I had a boyfriend so I gave him a fake one.), Chili Peppers (my sister took me to this in 7th grade – my first real concert [unless you count Gloria Estefan when I was 9 {oh my god the parentheses are getting out of control!!}]).

Worst:

Britney Spears and 98 Degrees (July 2000) I went with my aunt and cousin for my cousin’s 10th birthday (she’s totally an adult now and that will forever be weird) to the E Center (I will always call it that).  We were out on the lawn so we couldn’t even see anything.  It’s cute that we went, yes, but that’s about it. The highlight was when my aunt tried to do the “crane” karate-type move and my cousin swiped her leg out from under her and about 100 people watched her totally bite it in the middle of the lawn. It was cruel and delightful!

Q102 Jingle BallMya, 98 degrees, Pink, Shaggy, and the headliners: Baha Men! (December 2000) I went with a friend in high school, because I never said no to a concert. This was the second time I saw 98 degrees. Yes, two times in my life I sat through sets that included “Invisible Man” and the 1999’s hottest terrible wedding song “I do (cherish you)”.  Also The Baha Men win the award for grossest fucking thing I ever saw in my life. “Who Let the Dogs Out” was on Nickelodeon if I remember correctly, but their performance had a lot of pushups/humping the ground moves and and astonishing amount of shirtless body waves and pelvic thrusts in 40 minutes and it was seriously disturbing. I also got trampled while trying to fix my shoe, literally people stepping on my back and head while I was facedown on the ground- it was as terrifying as it sounds.  And I lost my purse, which let the horror continue after the curtain went down.

Train and Maroon 5  (2011) There is no gentle way to put this. It was the absolute worst. I ended up there because my husband told friends that I was free and would go without asking what concert it was or asking me (I have a track record of saying yes, so I don’t necessarily blame him. But I still do blame him to his face). Before I went I honestly couldn’t name a single song that Train sang, but once the show started I realized that I knew every fucking song. And I hated every fucking song.  And it wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t know it since every lyric was projected on the jumbotron and every single LA Gear and scrunchie wearing 33 year old woman in the E Center sang along at the top of their lungs. Oh, the humanity.  Since I was with my sweet, adorable friend who was actually enjoying this torture, I had to play it cool – there was no sense in whining and covering my ears (or cowering in a corner, rocking and crying, which is closer to what I wanted to do). So I danced, and sang feebly along here and there and slowly died on the inside.  What doesn’t kill us makes us… stronger?

So, that was long as shit. My apologies!

What I’m watching: Shameless. I thought it was going to be a slutty The O.C.-like show, but I was wrong and it’s totally not like any show I’ve ever watched.  I love the characters and the fact that it’s based on a trashy family and it sadly it kinda reminds me of my own trashy northeast Philly family, without the attractiveness or anything being funny.  Everyone’s fucked up and their house is gross and shit is going down in every episode but it doesn’t take anything very seriously.  And there are some incredible scenes  – the first things that come to mind are Joan Cusack’s wedding speech and gross dude Jody singing “Kissed by a Rose” intensely during sex then crying like a baby afterward. MY POWER, MY PLEASURE, MY PAIN!

That song will never be the same to me (which is a good thing, believe it or not).  But don’t say I didn’t warn you, that shit is NSFW.  You can stream both seasons and it’s a good one to watch in a marathon. Plus, there are some pretty hot people in it, too. Apparently there is a UK version, too, which I bet I would like even more because… mmm, accents.

So Bad It’s Good – Guilty Pleasures

23 Jan

We all have our television weaknesses. For my dad it used to be watching Silk Stockings or Le Femme Nikita on USA in our basement (but then switching the channel when he heard people coming down the basement steps), for my mom it was watching Survivor long after it was any good and yelling at the television about how so-and-so was a “snake in the grass!” (Note: This once happened when a boy was at our house picking me up to go to a movie – classy), for my sister it’s watching really, really creepy medical/health shows on Discovery Health about things like giant tumors with teeth in someone’s stomach and for me it is the inability to turn off really bad movies when they appear on the tv screen while channel surfing through USA, TNT, TBS, etc.

I can’t help it – I catch a glimpse of a crappy 90s-early 00s movie and I am a goner. The next two hours of my life are sucked away from me and I walk away ashamed and confused. I wish I was the type of person who said this only happened for movies on Turner Classic Movie channel starring Gregory Peck or Katherine Hepburn – but that would be a big lie. My remote stops for Piper Perabo, Moira Kelly, and that kid playing Lil Saint in You Got Served. And so without digging myself further into a pit of shame – here are my top 3 ultimate waste of a Sunday afternoon movies.

3) Coyote Ugly – I know, I know and I feel your judgement from all the way over here in Japan — but you know what – you can’t fight the moonlight bitches. There is something to love for everyone in this very guilty pleasure – for the gentleman of the crowd there are scantily clad ladies who sing and dance on top of a bar, for the ladies there is that hot Australian guy and a story about a girl trying to find her way and make her dreams come true in New York City, for masochists there is Tyra Banks attempting to act, for chubby chasers – there is a very hefty John Goodman who performs a faux strip routine on top of a bar. The music is great – no apologies – I owned both the songs “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” by LeeAnn Rimes and whatever song it was that Piper Perabo sings which features these painfully awful/stellar lyrics.

I don’t like to be alone in the night
And I don’t like to hear I’m wrong when I’m right
And I don’t like to have the rain on my shoes
But I do love you

This movie poster is whore-rific in the best way!

This movie poster is whore-rific in the best way!

Yikes. 16 year old me loved that shit. And I must admit that if I heard this song right now I might still be able to sing the whole thing. I must also cop to owning a faux snakeskin cowboy hat not long after this movie came out. Anyway – yes to Coyote Ugly. I forgot to mention that the soundtrack also features  The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Unbelievable, One Way or Another, and INXS’s Need You Tonight. Great guilty pleasure music. In a related note – my computer just asked for a shower after having to google ‘Coyote Ugly Soundtrack’ — sorry buddy.

2) You Got Served – I wish I was more ashamed of this one, but I stand by it. What’s not to love? There are dance battles with amazing moves, Steve Harvey as a character named Mr. Rad who owns the club where the battles take place, someone secretly macking on his best friend’s sister (ouch), a ridiculous plot involving minor drug trafficking, the best friends and founders of the crew having a bro fight and breaking up, a horrible late 90s/early 2000s villain with really, really bad hair, the clothing choices are exceptional and the climax of the movie takes place at an MTV dance competition hosted by Lala (remember her?) called the Big Bounce.

Oh and Walt from Lost plays the most adorable little boy/mascot for the crew ever (Lil’ Saint) who –SPOILER ALERT – dies toward the end of the movie, thus reuniting the broken up crew — becoming one as the Lil’ Saints defeat Wade’s (villain with bad hair) crew. Casablanca can keep it’s famous last words because what can top these – “Y’all just mad, ’cause today, you suckas got served.” Also bonus props for the Lil’ Kim cameo and the declaration that the final battle would be ‘straight hood – no rules’. Awww yeah. And the icing on the cake – “Jackée” is in it too!

1) The Cutting Edge – Two words – toe pick. If you have seen this insanely addicting movie about a diva spoiled rich girl figure skater and her washed up/injured roughneck Midwestern hockey player partner then you know exactly what I’m talking about. God — this movie is the best. I can probably act out the whole thing right now for you (if only I had a Doug Dorsey to assist me in the Pamchenko twist).

This movie is great because it’s about the most ludicrous sport ever – Olympic pairs figure skating and it knows it. The sexual tension between Kate Mosely and Doug Dorsey is pretty much amazeballs. I love the snotty rich girl with the rough around the edges blue collar guy scenario and both the actors bring it with their looks of hate/lust. Why weren’t these two in more movies together? The costumes are ridiculous as it’s set in the early 90s and Moira Kelly’s near unibrow really is it’s own star.   Kate’s overbearing father is played by Terry O’Quinn – who later would go on to be John Locke on Lost (holler!)

Moseley/Dorsey - Going for Gold!

Moseley/Dorsey – Going for Gold!

In case you needed more incentive to watch this. Other reasons why it’s my #1 Guilty Pleasure – amazing figure skating costumes, a training montage that is tops, Kate’s drunken antics after placing at Nationals – “In case you missed it. I am THROWING MYSELF AT YOU!” (amazing), the evil Russians at the Olympics (like the Dolf Lundgrens of pairs figure skating), the slutty American figure skater trying to steal Doug from Kate, Kate’s fiance’s name is Hale, the ridiculous skating montages where they don’t even try to make it look like the two leads are really skating, the soft lighting,  and of course — Kate continually reminding a bruised and battered Doug to use his “toe pick”. What a bitch.

The tag line for the movie calls it a “Love/Skate Relationship”. But I am going to say it. I love you, The Cutting Edge. I love you. And just remember who said it first. Toe pick.

What I’m Watching: The Sessions – Just watched the Helen Hunt/John Hawkes/William H. Macy movie based on the true story of polio victim/iron lung dweller/poet Mark O’Brien and how he used a sex surrogate to lose his virginity before he died. I know it sounds ridiculous but the movie was incredibly moving and beautiful and honest about sex in a way many other movies wouldn’t dare to be. I know everyone is losing their shit over Anne Hathaway in Les Mis – but Helen Hunt was better. She was vulnerable and strong and terrific. And she was naked a lot which requires a healthy amount of guts if you ask me. John Hawkes was also totally robbed of a nomination. Great stuff and a wonderful little movie that left me with tears in my eyes.

What I’m Listening to: The Purity Ring – specifically the song Lofticries. It’s electro-pop at it’s finest and I can’t stop hitting replay. The whole album is pretty good, but that song is an ear worm right now.

Give it a listen – Lofticries by The Purity Ring

What I’m Reading: Nearly finished with a Dance With Dragons – Book 5 of the Song and Fire and Ice series. It’s good. Lined up next is a little non-fiction.

Girls S2E2 – Murder-y in a Murder Way

22 Jan

Welcome back to week 2 of my Girls Recap. I have to admit that when I first watched this episode it kind of annoyed me – not enough Shosh, too much Hannah, a Hannah and Marnie bitch fight that both of them are better than (really? Did we have to go back to the looks thing?), and Adam being really creepy instead of just kind of creepy and endearing. So let’s get started.

Hannah – I first must address your fashion choices because seriously – What. The. Hell? While I secretly coveted your leopard print workout leggings – nearly everything else was awful. What was with the orange sleeping bag/jumpsuit? You looked like a glow worm serving time on Rikers. And the coveralls — ugh, don’t get me started. So outside of Hannah’s fashion disasters how was she doing this episode? Well, she was insufferable. First, making Elijah watch Adam’s videos and then when Elijah tells her he is sure he won’t murder her (like a good friend would) she turns it back on herself “Why, you don’t think he loved me enough to murder me?” It’s moments like that that I wish I could reach through the TV screen and bitch slap Hannah.

Sandy's face after gross misuse of Missy Elliot lyrics.

Sandy’s face after gross misuse of Missy Elliot lyrics.

Hannah’s worst moments came when she finally confronted her new Republican boyfriend about reading her essay. I rather enjoyed the banter/teasing between Elijah and the republican boyfriend (Sandy) and liked that they didn’t turn Sandy into a total cliche and had him rise above Elijah’s argument baiting. I liked that show was talking a little about politics and race issues even if I think they did it pretty poorly. Hannah ends up breaking up with Sandy via an uncomfortable argument about race and politics that makes neither party look good — each accusing each other of festishizing (that is a word right?)  the other.

But we know the truth – Hannah picked a fight because her feelings were hurt that Sandy didn’t love her essay “like everyone else”. Sandy tried to give her honest criticism but because Hannah is Hannah – she can’t take it and spirals out of control. I really loathed her during this fight. A lot. It was uncomfortable and awful and you knew that Hannah was going to tell everyone that they broke up because of Sandy’s politics (even if she doesn’t know shit about politics). It just sounds better to say “I’ve got principles. I respect gays and women too much to date a Republican” than to say “He didn’t like my essay and doesn’t think I am the greatest writer ever.” Ugh Hannah.

Will Jessa pay for this puppy's therapy bills after this?

Will Jessa pay for this puppy’s therapy bills after this?

Hannah also turned into a bitch monster when she returned home to find Marnie in her “slutty Von Trapp” uniform for her new job as hostess at a fancy club. Listen Hannah, Marnie has got to the pay the bills and didn’t have a job. Who cares if she took a pretty person job – she needs it and the money isn’t dirty. You are just pissed that you work at Grumpy’s and aren’t cute enough for a pretty person job. That isn’t what Marnie came over to tell you about – she wasn’t trying to rub it in your face. But here is another hard truth Hannah — you couldn’t be a hostess where Marnie works because you aren’t as cute (sorry, but it’s obvious) and you’re sort of an awkward and dick-ish person. Marnie was being a bitch to you too (This fight was the low point of the episode) but you started it. Howev, points for eating Cool Whip right out of the container. That looked so good.

Marnie –  I have a feeling this season is going to be the season of Marnie and I am totally okay with that. The less focus on Hannah, the better. Marnie’s deliciously awful job interview was a stand out scene for me in this episode. You can tell that at first Marnie has no idea that the woman interviewing her is being completely condescending. Allison Williams responses such as “We have a light orchestra” and “She is terrible at life” are comedic cold. The best line is when she finally realizes what a hosebeast the woman is when she asks “Where does one get a suit like that?” and she politely mumbles “Anne Taylor” knowing that this woman thinks she is not good enough. Oh god, it was great. Having gone through one or two awful interviews myself – I can say there is nothing worse than when you feel yourself not measuring up or fearing you’ve said too much or too little. Woof. Rough stuff.

A slutty Von Trapp

Marnie also wins points this episode for her fantastic and seething cat fight with Elijah. I was just telling a friend that I wish Elijah really was bi so that he and Marnie could occasionally hate fuck. Their chemistry is some of the best on the show and I feel positive I could watch 22 minutes of Andrew Rannells and Allison Williams just fighting, bantering, and angry making out/banging (and maybe singing some karaoke).

Jessa – Ugh, she was pretty insufferable wasn’t she? She definitely dethrones Marnie this week and wins the Smug Pug award. Her whole conversation with Hannah about how great married life is and how Thomas John looks at her paintings immediately (no shit, they are 8 feet tall and in the middle of your apartment Jessa), telling Hannah to read just one newspaper, or telling her that she over-thinks everything…ugh. Even if some of what Jessa said has a kernel of truth to it — being married doesn’t make you suddenly adult and wise. Part of me thinks she is acting this way because she thinks she is supposed to and if she really admitted it to herself – she is terrified. We’ll see how this plays out. The only thing I liked about the Jessa scenes were those cute freaking puppies and Jessa’s names for them (Garbage, Pucker and Hanukkah).

The only good thing in this picture are the puppies!

The only good thing in this picture are the puppies!

Shosh – Shosh’s pillow talk with Ray is so perfect and so Shosh. Those are the exact things I imagine Shosh would talk about – summer camp, archery, pig baiting. The whole scene was weirdly adorable (just like Shosh and Ray) and I’m happy to see these two in a good place right now. Shosh was a good friend to Marnie as well – telling her to get a pretty person job but also gently adding that she isn’t pretty enough to be a model. HA. Love you Shosh. And she would immediately call her friend who has the hostess job — like, right then, and proceed to set something up for Marnie. What a doll. I hope the next episodes is light on the Hannah and heavy on the Shosh because there wasn’t nearly enough of her here.

Badges in waterskiing, archery and an expert pig baiter.

Badges in waterskiing, archery and an expert pig baiter.

Other characters:

Elijah – Totally got what was coming to him with his boyfriend George and their break up. That fight was at turns sad, funny, and full of truths Elijah wasn’t prepared to hear. Also it gave us this line “It was only three thrusts”. I am not sure why Elijah would have told George about this unless he really wanted to break it off because it seems he is keeping the secret from Hannah. It’s both sweet and a testament to Hannah’s fragile ego that he is more scared to tell her than to tell his actual boyfriend. Interesting. The fight between Elijah and Marnie is an episode high as was Elijah telling Hannah she looks like a glow worm. Elijah for the win!

Thomas John – You are still horrible and the less I say about you and your creepy fedora and faux enthusiam for seeing Hannah – the better. You are gross. Go to a meeting and never come back.

Adam – The creepy video break-up album he sent to Hannah was believable but everything else that Adam did this episode was wildly out of character. Girls did great work last season with the character of Adam – making him in an oddly sympathetic but still slightly repulsive nice guy. He was complicated and you never knew exactly how to feel about him – but in the end you felt like he wasn’t the bad guy in his situation with Hannah, he was the one who was hurt and used. So to have him show up at Hannah’s like a stalker and then break into her house? Totally out of character. I thought at first that perhaps he was drinking again, but there was no indication of that. It was weird and scary and murder-y and I hated it. However, kudos and points to the writing staff because Adam would totally have a warrant out for public urination and unpaid parking tickets. My advice to Adam – let go of Hannah – she’s not worth the fines and the crazy my friend. Also – she called 911 on you. What a drama queen.

Episode Winner(s) – Shosh and Ray, Elijah, Jessa’s puppies

Further Proof of Shosh and Ray’s victory can be found here –

Episode Losers – Hannah (don’t ever use Missy Elliot lyrics again Dunham), Thomas John & Jessa and their awful tiger tattoos.

And now for my first ever Readers Poll — Who was “the wound” in this week’s episode?

Oscar Movies – Part Deux

21 Jan

Brem already covered a few contenders in her first post about Oscar nominated movies and as I read her blog I realized how few of the movies that were nominated I had seen. I was ashamed. I mean, you’re talking to the girl who used to proclaim the Academy Awards show as her “Superbowl” (not ashamed) and filled out ballots online in hopes of predicting all categories correctly (slightly ashamed).  I needed to remedy my lack of Oscar knowledge this year  as soon as possible in case a Japanese person ever asked me what my take was on the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty or if I thought JLaw had any chance of beating Jessica Chastain in the best actress race (I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for those questions). Since last week I’ve seen Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables (or if you’re Brem – Les Mis -er-gargle-balls), Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, and Argo. I’m still hoping to watch Life of Pi in 3D in the theater and plan on catching Amour and Lincoln this week if time permits. So without further explanation – a brief take on each of these movies.

Silver Linings Playbook

Not sure how I am supposed to categorize this movie. A dramatic comedy (dramedy)? A semi-romantic film about crazy people? A humorous family drama wrapped up in sports gambling, the Philadelphia Eagles, ballroom dancing and mental disorders? I can’t define it but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing it. Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence all turn in fine performances but it’s Lawrence who stands out (and not just because I have a mega lady crush on her). The movie was honestly a little slow for me at first but once Lawrence enters the fray she brings out the best in all of the other actors — particularly B. Coop. Her turn as Tiffany is equal parts hilarious, vulnerable, sexy, and maddening. She’s a little nuts but completely owns it.

Jlaw and B Coop - you are both amazing.

Jlaw and B Coop – you are both amazing.

The dance sequence at the end is full of joy and is so great I watched it twice. I really liked (but didn’t LOVE) this movie and it’s nice to see a funny, dramatic, romantic little indie movie get nominated for so many Academy Awards. I definitely recommend it and would not be pissed at all if JLaw took home the Oscar for her great turn (you know her speech would be amazing). Also Bradley Cooper — thanks for making crazy look really sexy — even if you are wearing a Philadelphia Eagles jersey (gross).

Beasts of the Southern Wild – I now kind of want to name a child Hushpuppy. This movie was beautifully done and the little girl who stars is a revelation. I could watch a movie of just her facial reactions ( I guess I sort of did). The story was unique and interesting – mixing the fantastic in with the mundane and the score to the film was just lovely. The actors playing the father and daughter whom the movie centers on are both non-professional but you couldn’t tell at all — they were stunning and worked beautifully together. The scene where Hushpuppy confronts her ailing father about dying? Damn it. Let’s just say I was a lil’ emotional and leave it at that.

How cute is Hushpuppy? This cute!

How cute is Hushpuppy? This cute!

Argo – Ben Affleck’s beard is hot. I had to get that out of my system — I’ve really been feeling beards lately. Outside of Ben looking super sexy I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this little historical pot boiler. I particularly enjoyed the little touches in the movie – the hairstyles and clothing, the opening sequence that told a brief history of Iran using cartoon like storyboards (like they do for films), the way that Affleck didn’t really cast any major names as the hostages so they could feel more real to you (unless you consider Tate Donavan a hot commodity — and I haven’t since the OC).

Nominee for sexiest beard in a movie.

Nominee for sexiest beard in a movie.

I am told the film stays mostly historically accurate with the exception of the last 20 minutes which turns up the film’s Hitchcokian suspense levels perhaps a bit too much. The dramatics at the end didn’t piss me off because after all — this is a Hollywood movie – what the fuck do you expect? Definitely worth seeing. Well done Ben Affleck — the beard, the directing, the acting, your shirt being off just long enough to show us you are still fine — thank you for all of it. Also, Alan Arkin — you are the fucking man and I wish you popped up in every movie calling for a hilariously cantankerous old man.

Django Unchained – I have an inappropriate crush on Christoph Waltz – just needed to share that. The dialogue was crackling (as per usual with a Tarantino movie), the costumes, the score, and cinematography were great too. Brem pretty much covered this one already but I must add that it was totally 45 minutes too long (as is prone to happen with QT’s movies). Also – Quentin – stop trying to act — stick to screenwriting and directing because you are awful. As Tina Fey said “Quentin Tarantino – the star of my sexual nightmares”. Truth.

Okay, I know he looks kind of old here - but he is hot and charming and European.

Okay, I know he looks kind of old here – but he is hot and charming and European.

Les Miserables – Again this was one covered by Brem. My two cents – too many close-ups, Russell Crowe should never sing and should also lose 40 pounds (those high waisted coats aren’t fooling anyone Russ), Hugh Jackman is amazing and so is his ginormous and manly chest, Anne Hathaway was good but annoys the hell out of me and I thought the girl playing Eponine was actually way more heartbreaking, that little boy playing Gavroche made me melt, Helena Bonham Carter and Sascha Baron Cohen were hilarious and I now have a crush on Eddie Redmayne.

Adorbs.

Adorbs.

This movie was also 45 minutes too long and in the words of Randy “Dawg” Jackson – it was only okay for me. The best part about seeing it was that afterwards all of my friends and I sang everything we were saying for the rest of the night. Example “Tonighhhhhhhht when I go to beddd – I’ll set the alarm before I lay down my headddd! And then in the toilet I will peeeeee – because peeing on the futon is not an option for meeeeeeeeeeeee! (sang in my best Jean Val Jean voice)

Alright, thanks for reading. Check back in a day or two when I put up my recap for last night’s episode of Girls!

Girls S2 E1 – Wearing Our Big Girl Pants

18 Jan

Let’s get right down to business with this. The second season opens much like the first one did with cuddling in bed with her roommate — but this time it’s Elijah with his boner (“It’s not for you.” – first line of the ep that made me LOL) instead of Marnie with her retainer. I liked the weird symmetry of the scene as it showed us how much has changed but also not changed at the same time – which is a pretty accurate description of what has happened in our character’s lives between the first season and now. So what’s going on with our favorite self-absorbed ladies you ask? Well here you go.

girls 2

Hannah – She is still totally the worst. And it only took about 2 minutes in to show her naked and getting it on. I was really confused for the first ten minutes of this episode because I had no idea how much time had passed. All of a sudden Hannah has a new boyfriend (Troy from Community) and they are furiously boning on a couch and then chasing each other around some sort of book store or something? What? What about Adam, Hannah? Huh? You know the guy you basically pined after for all of last season who got hit by a car (kind of your fault bt dubs). Anyway, I know they mentioned meeting at the coffee shop where she worked but I also felt like this was a way for Girls to address the race issue that had so many people up in arms last season. It felt like a ploy. I didn’t like it. Also, I hope they don’t waste Donald Glover because he is a great actor and pretty adorable (and way too cute for Hannah I think).

Hannah

Hannah is feeling sorry for herself. Surprise, surprise.

So it seems Hannah and Adam are still each others main hang and she still cuddles with him, changes his bedpan, fetches his vitamins, watches movies with him, etc because she feels responsible for his accident and broken leg (also — because she is totes still in love with him). I wanted to bitch slap her after she told Adam she has been constantly doing things for other people (Really Hannah? Really?) and was sick of it and needs to not be with him. She is the worst.  I also hate when she is all like “I feel how I feel because I’m an individual, blah blah blah”. No one cares Hannah!

The only redeeming thing about Hannah in this episode was her gleeful banter with Elijah about being the best roommates evah! My best gay and I lived together for a year and I can say with absolute truth that we had the same conversations about having themed dinner parties and trying to be classy as shit. This never really panned out but we once had a New Years Eve party with a case of Andre champagne and shrimp cocktail. Trust me, it was pretty great. But outside of this I must go with a quote from last season and declare Hannah the “wound” of this episode. Sidenote – The epi ends with Hannah going to Sandy’s house (ewww, that would be his name) to “borrow” a book – it reveals she has a matching thong and bra set and I call bullshit. There is no way Hannah would ever own that. She is likely to be the girl wearing bathing suit bottoms instead of underwear since she ran out of clean stuff — not the girl in the matching set. Get it right Dunham!

Marnie – I loved to hate Marnie for much of last season. She was such a little bitch but in many ways, that is why I respect her. She thinks she is the truth teller but she can’t face the truths about herself. I am ashamed to admit that the character I most identify and relate to is Marnie and that has caused some serious self loathing whilst watching this show. However, I I feel for Marnie. I was “downsized” from my first big girl job too. It’s the worst and so I find myself relating even more to her. Trying to seem like she is together while she is actually falling apart….girl — let’s talk – I wanna give you life advice.

Moments that made me love Marnie – Her reaction shots to her mom’s oversharing about sex with the cater waiter, her take down of Charlie (who is also the total pits) with the “yeah, a conversation” line, when she tried to harmonize with Elijah while singing Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery” (Sidebar – last year I found out several people I have met in Japan under the age of 25 did NOT know who Sarah Mclachlan was and I was really incensed)., Marnie saying “I know” after Elijah told her she was a good singer and should be in a band — I love over the top self confidence.

Yeah, we're working - building a mystery...and choosing sooo carefully.

Yeah, we’re working – building a mystery…and choosing sooo carefully.

Moments that made me want to punch Marnie in the Ovaries – Marnie being such a prudish bitch when her mom tried to open up to her (even if it was gross), Marnie semi-stalking Charlie and getting satisfaction out of seeing that he is smothering Audrey too (no one likes a smug pug Marnie!), Marnie keeping her clothes and dress on when Elijah tried to bang her — I know, I know, we all totally have that one friend who really hates to be naked in front of other people even if they have a good body/no known deformities and in some ways this tidbit makes Marnie more endearing but also — stop being such a prudy McPruderson Marnie — you were going to bang him, Marnie ending the episode by going to cuddle with the love smothering Charlie. UGH. I love Marnie’s shameful spiral but I also hate it.

Shoshanna – The best character ever. Shoshanna wins this episodes hands down. First with her cleansing her apartment, followed by the best conversation ever with Elijah and Hannah about losing her v-card to Ray ‘ I wouldn’t say I miss it, but it’s like something is missing”. Damn it Shosh – you are hilarious. Your outfit at the party was amazing. The cut away shot to you singing Sean Kingston’s ‘Beautiful Girls’ might have made me laugh so hard I peed my pants because you totally would, the cut away to you pretending you were a DJ when you thought no one was watching, your hair flip and dramatically awkward encounters with Ray at the party, finding out you sent ridiculous emoji texts, standing up for yourself when Ray was being a total dick, and then the best line of the night “I can deal with it because I have my big girl pants on”. God, I love you. I have no complaints about you at all and sometimes wish this show exclusively followed you around and that sometimes we got voice-over narration of what you were thinking like stupid Zach Braff on Scrubs used to.

Also this link. Amazing. http://www.vulture.com/2013/01/found-the-many-emojis-of-girls-shoshanna.html

Everything about this.

Everything about this.

Jessa –
You were barely in this episode and truthfully I forgot about you until you reappeared with your horrible husband and your even more horrible holiday cornrows. You aren’t pulling it off girl. No other comments on her for now.

Other people –

Elijah – I love you even if you tried to sleep with Marnie and you’re kind of a dick with an awful boyfriend. You are funny and I’m glad you’re here. Also, I was hilariously surprised by his aggressive kissing style with Marnie and call it true to life. I have had many a gay man’s tongue in my mouth (awkward over-share — you’re welcome) and stand by that they are the most aggressive kissers I’ve ever encountered. A few times when we’ve been drunk I’ve gotten face raped by one of my gay guy pals and so Marnie and Elijah’s booze fueled make out sesh was pretty spot on.

Charlie – Ugh, you’re still on this show? Go away and build a bunk bed out of “found objects” and then write a song about it.

Adam – I feel sorry for you because you’re injured and because you are in love with the worst character on the show. Apologies.

Ray – I hate that you were a dick to Shoshanna but I love how much you actually like her and all her weirdness. Now go lock it down.

Jessa’s Husband – Go die of explosive diarrhea or something equally horrible. You are awful.

Episode Winner – Shoshanna, with Marnie a close second and the feather in Shosh’s hat as the third

Episode Loser – Hannah, Charlie, everyone who was not Shosh or Marnie

Oscar movies – round 1

18 Jan

I have always done a shitty job at seeing the nominated movies so this year I’m using this blog as an excuse to go see movies. In the past week I’ve seen Lincoln, Django Unchained and Les Miserables.

Lincoln

Yeah, I probably don’t have much to say about this that hasn’t been said already. It was great, mostly dialogue but witty, sharp and really well written. The actors were perfect. It made me think that Abraham Lincoln was a clever, sneaky, complicated guy, which I’m guessing was the point. I didn’t know exactly how things played out with the way the Civil War ended and how that was intertwined with abolishing slavery (which is the focus of the movie) so at one point I whispered to Brad “I don’t know what’s gonna happen!”.  His response (regarding the amendment ending slavery) “I don’t think it’s gonna pass”.  Thanks, smartass.

lincoln_movie1120

Django Unchained

I was against seeing this movie for some reason – I always think that I don’t like movies that are violent and then remember that isn’t true.  I don’t like movies that are stupid.  My favorite movie of all time is Fight Club and I love QT’s (2gether anyone? no? Good for you.) other films, at least Reservoir Dogs and Inglorious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino is fucking weirdo though and I heard a quote about how his Golden Globes acceptance speech was akin to masturbating on the podium and that was pretty spot on.

Anyway, about the movie: the word that comes to mind is badass.  Jamie Foxx was badass, his clothes were badass, and revenge is badass.  Tarantino movies are really satisfying.

django

Les Mis (miser-gah-blehs!)

Forgiveness, strength of character, suffering, redemption, love, dedication, beauty, compassion. Lots of things come to mind when people think of this movie. What comes to my mind is how much I hate dialogue being sung and how I think Russell Crowe is gross. Just, no.  I’m so sorry.  I liked some parts, but I would say about 85% of this movie was boring and/or insufferable. I guess it’s just not my thing? I loved the story, the revolutionary dudes were really hot, and the little boy was the cutest thing on this earth.  But I would never want to see it again because COOOOOSSSSEEETTTE!! YES, ITS TRUUUUE!! I WILL SING EVERYTHING I SAAAY TO YOUU SO IT TAKES FOUR TIMES AS LOOOONNGGGG! That said, I did cry at the end and I thought Hugh Jackman was really good. Also, Anne Hathaway has the most enormous mouth. She’s like a beautiful frog!

lesmiserables

Hopefully I will see more movies and continue this, but who knows!?  Writing a part one with little confidence there will be part two feels like one of those vaguely “wrong” things to do, like sleeping with the TV on or laughing at someone who misbuttons their coat (But oh, the joy I feel when I see someone with a misbuttoned coat! And then I feel bad about that joy!  But seriously, if you want me to like you more, button it wrong. It makes you look flawed and adorable!).

What I’m listening to:

The Districts, but I can’t talk about them all the time (BUT! They are playing on Friday with Juston Stens and the Get Real gang and I’m going and you should, too. The Elks Club is not just a club for elks! It’s a club for music and beer and dancing and friends!). So someone else I have been listening to is another Philadelphia band, Cheers Elephant.  It’s kinda poppy, and I know that because it makes me snap my fingers! Two of my favorites are “Like Wind Blows Fire” (title track! WHOA!) and Leaves. I don’t really know anything about them, but I’d like to see ’em live as soon as I can (hmm… I actually thought they were much more popular than the views on these youtube videos lead me to believe)! Their album is free and that’s always cool. It’s happy music.

What I’m watching on TV:

Extreme Couponing. Because my internet is not working because the fucking router we bought 6 months ago is broken already so I can’t stream episodes of Shameless and I’m too lazy to get up and look for the remote and anyway it’s really just background noise.  But I DO have a secret desire to hoard shit and I’m actually really jealous of these people and all their toilet paper.  But again, the laziness!

So that’s it. I hate to be one of those people that begs for comments or likes, but seriously I just want to know who I should be embarrassed around when I see you in person. So like it even if you don’t particularly like it, ok? Sorry and thanks!

A Slightly Late Best Of 2012 List

16 Jan

There is little I love more than making lists. The only thing better than making lists is crossing things off lists, but it just may be my slightly type A tendencies that produce that endorphin high. I am sure you are all listed out and sick of reading “best of”s since it’s already three weeks into 2013 but because this is our blog – I could care less. I didn’t have a blog to spaz out and spew all of my opinions on in 2012 and I didn’t want to be that dick on facebook who couldn’t stop talking about how amazing Homeland is (but I was anyway). Before I give you my tops for the year in music, tv, books, and more (not movies because movies in Japan are expensive as hell and I haven’t seen enough to really talk about) I forgot to mention the other best part of reading best of lists — judging the taste of other people and trying to decide if you still really can respect them the next time you run into them. I hope at least a few of these choices garner your hard won cultural respect. If not – judge away – I know you want to.

Favorite TV Shows of the Year (I love TV but am only writing about my top 3 because I am wordy and I don’t want this to all be about TV).

1) Homeland – Good god – no other show has kept me on the edge of my seat and swearing at my computer screen more than this one. Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin are all at the top of their game  and I feel that no one else in television can currently match Danes and Lewis and their intense chemistry. I never know if they are going to get into a fist fight or start doing it against the wall. I had put off watching this  for a bit last year because when I heard it’s concept ( a secretly bi-polar CIA analyst is convinced that a recently returned POW is a sleeper terrorist out to unleash the next awful attack on the US) I thought “meh, I can take it or leave it”. But seriously — it’s fucking brilliant. I am not going to say that every TV show is cookie cutter and easy to figure out but I will say that I feel this is the only drama on tv that employs writers I know for a fact are 100% smarter than me. They keep me continually surprised and when I think I have it all figured out, it turns me in a new direction. Damn it, that is some good television. I know many people had their panties in a knot and saying that the second season wasn’t as strong as the first and on the whole I can agree – until I watch the interrogation episode from season 2 or the last exchange between Jessica and Brody in their car, or every time I see the famous Claire Danes cry face. Much fun and hoopla has been made about Claire Danes’ amazing/terrifying cry face, but no actress does it better. Her jaw juts out, her lip quivers, her eyes water, and then her whole chin just falls apart in the most believable way. As Brem said to me earlier this week “How can someone be so beautiful but also so ugly at the same time?” I don’t know Brem – but just as I suspected when I watched her as Angela Chase — Claire Danes is the bomb.com. I am not even embarrassed that I wrote that because that is how great I think she is.

clare-danes-crying-465

Right before the crying eruption begins. A perfect pre-waterworks face.

2) Girls – Ugh, I sort of hate myself for loving this show so much because mostly I feel like I could have and should have written it, but what can you do? While I find it annoying in many ways that I described in my last blog I also find myself relating to and cringing at the characters on this show. I want to simultaneously slap these girls in the face and give them a hug and tell them it will all work out. The humor is cringe-worthy in the best way and the characters are selfish, self-absorbed, mean and awful at times but have flashes of painful self awareness, humanity, kindness and a type of endearing weirdness that makes them remind you of yourself or someone you know. The best character in my opinion is the delightful Shoshanna. I think I may like her best because she is the most “character” like and less grounded in reality. Zosia Mamet gives a lot of life to her line readings and gestures and I remember nearly peeing my pants watching the episode last year where she accidentally takes crack. So terrific. Also, Hannah’s boyfriend Adam was the best casting ever — there is something about that guy that makes you both find him appealing and want to punch him in the nuts at the same time. Well played Lena Dunham. The moments that shine outside of the accurate portrayal of early 20s self loathing, deliciously awkward sex, etc are the ones where you watch and think to yourself “I’ve done that”. I remember watching Marnie and Hannah having a private dance party in their apartment to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and remember doing the exact same things with my roommate Jarod a few years back (except we were dancing to Wicked and Regina Spektor — don’t hate).

My thoughts exactly Shosh.

My thoughts exactly Shosh.

3) Parks and Recreation – Amy Poehler/Leslie Knope for President! This show has gotten better with age and the back half of it’s third season and the beginning of it’s fourth season have been terrific. I think I love this show so much because it can pair any of it’s actors together in a story line and turn it into comedic gold. Amy Poehler is hilarious, warm, and delightfully goofy as Leslie Knope and Nick Offerman’s Ron “Fucking” Swanson is the best display of wood working, breakfast loving, ‘stache sporting manliness on any tv screen EVER. Those are just two of the MVPs on this show – but a testament to how good Parks and Rec is is that when I ask a fellow fan to pick their favorite character I rarely hear the same person but rather a protest that it would be impossible to make a decision. Tom Haverford, April, Andy, Ben, Jerry, Ann, Chris, and the rest are all amazing. Treat yo’ self and watch this show – I promise you won’t regret it.

The very definition of masculinity and one of my top celebrity crushes.

The very definition of masculinity and one of my top celebrity crushes.

Honorable Mention – Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Community, Downton Abbey, Happy Endings, Parenthood, 30 Rock, the first 5 episodes of Dexter this past season but nothing beyond that because shit fell apart.

My Favorite Music (In sweet, playlist form)

Instead of making a list of my favorite albums (I bet you are burned out on reading those) – I have decided to keep this section to a playlist of 19(ish) new songs that I played a ton this year on my ipod, in my car, or at my desk as I graded papers. The song is listed first and is followed by the artist and in some cases a brief description. Unlike the tv shows, these are in no particular order.

1) Thinkin’ Bout You/Bad Religion/Forrest Gump – Frank Ocean – Okay so these are three songs but they are three of my favorite off of Ocean’s album Channel Orange. I didn’t get a music boner for the whole album like every other critic out there but these three songs (and few others) are stellar. Ocean’s confessional lyrics are wonderful and his falsetto just makes my heart ache.

2) Werewolf – Fiona Apple – Probably the song I played the most in my car this year and sang along with. This is true not only because I fancy my voice to be in the Fiona belting range (lots of loud and low growl/singing) but also because it’s beautiful and heartbreaking and amazing. The lines “We can still support each other/All we gotta do is avoid each other/Nothing wrong when/ A song ends in a minor key.” Ugh, gut punch.

3) Oblivion – Grimes – I made me feel like I was on crack and my pulse was racing in a not scary but kind of scary way. (see – Shoshanna on crack)

4) I Love It – Icona Pop – If I had a 100 yen for every time I blasted this and shouted the words “I DON’T CARE. I LOVE IT!” into the ear of a passenger in my car this spring/summer – I’d be a rich woman. Total and pure summer abandon.

5) Swimming Pools (Drank) – Kendrick Lamarr – Just yes. Good luck not adding the word “Drank” to anything after you listen to this. As in “Get Up. Drank. Teach Class. Drank. Eat kyushoku (school lunch). Drank”

6) Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings/I’m Writing a Novel – Father John Misty – Two songs off of one of my favorite road trip albums of the year.

7) Give Out – Sharon Van Etten – I have loved Sharon since her beautiful first album and this song hits her sweet spot for haunting lyrics that make me nod my head in agreement. The lines “You’re the reason why I’ll move to the city/Or why I’ll need to leave” are so perfect I can hardly stand it.

8) You Ain’t Alone/Heartbreaker – Alabama Shakes – The lead singer’s voice is like a giant stick of butter. This music makes me feel like I am at an old bar in the middle of the summer drinking a whiskey and playing music on a quarter fed jukebox before last call. Sorry for the oddly specific description of these songs.

9) No Way Down – The Shins.

10) Adorn and Do You… – Miguel – As stated before this album makes me want to get down.

11) Losing You – Solange – I dare you to listen to this song and not want to fucking get your groove on. Solange is the cooler, hipper, more soulful sister of Beyonce and I love her as much and if not more than B.

12) Gun Shy/Sleeping Ute – Grizzly Bear – melancholy perfection

13) We Are Never Ever Gettting Back Together – Taylor Swift Into everyone’s lives must fall a little T. Swift – I’m not even embarrassed that I bought her last album but I know I will catch shit for this.

14) All of Me – Tanlines – Great summer song

15) 1991/Liquorice – Azealia Banks – This girl has the best flow for a lady rapper since Missy Elliot or the heyday of Lil’ Kim – get on board with her badness y’all.

16) Constant Conversations – Passion Pit – I didn’t love the whole album but this song is a sad little stunner and addresses the lead singer’s battles with alcohol and bi-polar diagnosis. Just trust me on this one.

17) Bad Girls – MIA – Most played song while I was on a treadmill and a baller ass video. Aww yeah.

18) If I Didn’t Know Better – Civil Wars cover by the cast of Nashville — This song is a sexy as hell and full of that feeling of wanting to lay the mack on someone who is off limits because you’re either in a relationship or they are. But still…so hottttt.

19) Let’s Go – Matt and Kim

Honorable Mentions – Live and Die – The Avett Brothers, anything with David Guetta (shhh! I like to dance everyone – get over it), Kill for Love – The Chromatics, Met Before – Chairlift, Stay Useless – The Cloud Nothings,  Boyfriend – Justin Bieber (I can feel your judgement from here assholes – just stop), Scream – Usher – yes — please and thank you Usher, Let’s Have a Kiki – Scissor Sisters, Lights/Anything Can Happen – Ellie Goulding

Books

Just a few favorites from this past year

1) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green –Terrific little book that sounds horrible when you read the summary but is full of emotion and surprise. Loved it, wept, recommended it to everyone.

2) Where’d You Go, Bernadette – by Maria Semple – Written by a former writer for Arrested Development. Does it need more endorsement than that? Hilarious.

3) Beautiful Ruins – by Jess Walter

4) The Passage/The Twelve – by Justin Cronin – The stuff of nightmares in the best way. I was afraid to sleep but it was hard to put these two down. The Twelve came out this year and is the second of a planned trilogy.

5) A Song of Fire and Ice – Books 2 thru 5 – George RR Martin. Sweet Jesus — I can’t believe how obsessed with these books I have become. It took me a few hundred pages to get into the first book last year but they only build and get better and my world would now feel incomplete without Dany, Jon Snow, Arya, Tyrion and the rest. I won’t go into any details but you should read them.

Okay, I am done now. I have a lot to say about each of the songs, shows, and books listed above and I feel like what I wrote doesn’t even scratch the surface of it. Anyway, if you were curious what my year in pop culture was like you now have a playlist, partial reading list, and a few favorite shows. Leave me comments and tell me what you were watching/listening to/reading/obsessing over. I love a great recommendation (*only if you have good taste).

 

Obsession of the Moment – My intense best friend and lady crush on Jennifer Lawrence. Just please read or watch any interview with her ever and you will understand why my sister and I are planning on marrying her brothers in order to be besties with her. I know it’s creepy to admit this but I think JLaw probably comes up in every conversation my sister and I have had in the past two years. In the words of the late, great Whitney Houston “It’s not right, but it’s okay”.

jlaw

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/jennifer%20lawrence — Just a small sampling of JLaw’s amazingness.

Please check back later this week when I finally post my recap for this week’s episode of Girls. Are there any other shows you think I should be recapping or throwing in my two cents about? Thanks to those who are reading, commenting, and passing this blog along to others – you guys are awesome!

 

Outtie 5000,

EB

Airing of Grievances – Boardwalk Empire

14 Jan

So this is my first official blog post here on the GOP!  The idea started when I wrote out this year-end list on my other blog (that used to be about my house but then I stopped working on my house and just made about random shit) and knew that I wished I was reading the same list made by Beddall. So here we are. I plan on keeping up that blog too because apparently I’m a blog whore now. Post-grad school has forced me seek out alternative activities to aid in procrastination. Also, I excessively use parentheses and I apologize in advance. I will now officially start my pop culture blathering and air some grievances about Boardwalk Empire.

I will start out with the fun fact that I really like Boardwalk Empire and watched the show from beginning to current in a few (maybe 2?) weeks. Fucking prohibition, right? I love the seediness and never really knew much about how bootlegging/smuggling operations worked.  I like to see how people got around it and I get a hard on about the notion that public opinion can take huge turns very quickly and change our society right before our eyes. Drug war, anyone? Maybe I’m too hopeful.

There’s tons of killing and that’s all fine with me, I mean the shovel thing was a little much, but overall, I won’t complain about violence because, eh, we know it’s coming. After we caught up we started getting together with some friends to watch it on Sundays and being a person that is never, ever caught up with shows this was very novel and fun. Plus: a reason to keep drinking into Sunday!  Before the finale (following the best episode ever, oh! second-to-last-episode, you ruled) we placed bets on who we thought would die first, how many main characters would die, who would run Atlantic City at the end and what the biggest shocker would be. The episode was a bit of a letdown, but the point is I think it’s a fun show to watch and talk about.  The acting is great, I love the fact that it’s set in Atlantic City (near and uh.. a little bit dear to my heart) some episodes literally had me pacing, hiding behind the couch, and screaming at the tv. I enjoy it (even if the people watching it with me want to fucking kill me).

But I have some issues. Like, uh:

#1: the fucking awful characters.

I pretty much hate them all, or at least wouldn’t really care if something terrible happened to just about all of them. Some are more evil and therefore interesting than others, but every single one of them is a greedy, selfish prick and pretty much doesn’t give a shit about anyone, doesn’t care about any cause bigger than their wallet. Even the characters that they want you to like – the writers seemed to have  picked a single sympathetic character trait and applied it to anyone they want to have a “good” side: they are nice to children – Richard, Nucky, Eli, Angela, Al Capone, Owen.  Not very creative. Here’s my hope:

Please die: Nucky, Margaret, Jimmy, Gyp Rosetti, Gillian, Eli, The Commodore, Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Van Alden, Mickey fucking Doyle

I don’t care if you die: Al Capone, Angela Darmody, Chalky,  Billie Kent, Chalky White,

Please don’t die: Richard, Owen  (Though they still continue to do shit that pisses me off.)

#2 changing the characters personalities whenever they feel like it

Sometimes I think they are just writing a story and plug characters in, even if it doesn’t make sense for the character. I’m all for developing characters and having them grow and change but that’s not how it seems to go down. In one scene Margaret is a raging religious zealot, giving all Nucky’s money to the church and all up in the priest’s office, then she’s all women’s lib and getting birth control for poor women and sleeping with the help.  Angela’s running off to Paris and being an artist and then she marries Jimmy.  Van Alden is all rules, rules, rules and then just… changes completely.  Whatev. Do what you want.

#3 Too many recurring side characters

This is probably just me, but I found myself regularly asking “wait, who are these guys?” and Brad is all “shut up, it doesn’t matter, they’re gangsters” and I’m like “oh, okay”. And then they get killed. I think it’s a lot of wasted time. I’m probably just not paying enough attention and don’t place much value on the need for killing people. My bad. They just bring in a bunch of “guys” so they can kill people without losing anyone necessary. I’m certain I’ll think of more as soon as I hit publish!

Fin.

What I’m listening to:

Mostly The Districts, but I just can’t talk about them all the time. So, on my drive home I actually put my songs on shuffle and heard this song –  and really, really listened to the lyrics.  It’s about taking prehistoric materials (fossil fuels) and using them to create art – best line: “A bunch of 15 year olds made from dinosaur bones singing “oh yeah”.” I love the last lines. Plus, it’s pretty.

Father John Misty – Now I’m learning to Love the War

Here are the words:

Try not to think so much about
The truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record
All the shipping, the vinyl, the cellophane lining
The high gloss
The tape and the gear

Try not to become too consumed
With what’s a criminal volume of oil that it takes to paint a portrait
The acrylic, the varnish
Aluminum tubes filled with latex
The solvents and dye

Lets just call this what it is
The jealous side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

Try not to dwell so much upon
How it won’t be so very long from now that they laugh at us for selling
A bunch of 15 year olds made from dinosaur bones singing “oh yeah”
Again and again
Right up to the end

Lets just call this what it is
The jealous side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

I’ll just call this what it is
My vanity gone wild with my crisis
One day this all will all repeat
Now sure hope they make something useful out of me

What I’m reading:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I chose this book because it was near my bed when I got a visit from my good friend insomnia. I just found it in a still unpacked box (I have now lived here 5 and a half months. pathetic.) and I have no idea where I got it. I am only on page 25 because it keeps putting me to sleep. It might be good, I have no idea. Ringing endorsement!*

*as a sleep aid!

Airing of Grievances — Portrayal of 20somethings on TV

10 Jan

The TV show Girls returns for its second season this Sunday and while I eagerly anticipate catching up with this often funny and painfully awkward in the best way kind of show it also pisses me off. Not because its lack of diversity or the fact that it again sets NYC as the center of the universe or the fact that Lena Dunham (a lightning rod for controversy in the comedy world) writes/stars/directs/produces it. No, it’s because it follows a trend of completely unbelievable ways in which someone in their early 20s live. Lots of critics often praise this show for the authentic way it portrays “girls” in their early to mid 20s and I call bullshit. You heard me, bullshit. My grievances go beyond just Girls but to basically every tv show portraying anyone between the ages of 20-25. Listed below are things that really rile me up when I tune into Girls or basically any other show on tv catering to “young adults” of the world. I’d like to add that I actually really love Girls and think Lena Dunham is pretty rad, but I’d like a show for twenty-somethings that was as heartbreaking and painfully realistic as My-So-Called Life and Freak and Geeks were for the teenage years. Yes, I realize those shows only lasted a season on air and that is probably because no one wants to live those moments over again because it was hard enough the first time. Sigh.

Grievance List

1) No one is poor! I am serious. Do you know how ridiculous this is? I was broke as a fucking joke after graduating college. In my first job as a talent agent (a story for another day) I made less than $26000 a year and I thought I was rich. I was the sugar mama to my friends – the one who would buy beer that didn’t taste like piss and sometimes fancy cheese and stuffed olives at Whole Foods. When I was 23 I was still going to college bar happy hours for $1 drafts because that was all I could afford. I would get to the end of the month and I’d have a balance of $12 in my bank account before I got paid again. This is never shown on TV. Everyone has an AMAZING apartment  and while I applaud Girls for talking about the rent being due once every third episode it still has everyone in fabulous clothing and at classy bars where they aren’t drinking PBR pounders but rather classy cocktails.  Did I mention the apartments? I did? Well I want to do it again – because no one I know who was living in NYC in their early to mid 20s lived in a big apartment with multiple bedrooms and huge bathrooms unless they were in the seriously scary parts of the city. When How I Met Your Mother first started Ted and Marshall (a junior architect and a law student) were living in mid Manhattan in one of the nicest apartments I’ve ever seen. Yeah, I don’t think so. My friends who went to law school are swimming in debt and could never afford that shit. Also no one has ever stolen toilet paper from their job or ever thought about being evicted because they are still being supported by their parents. And they live in New York City – the most expensive city in America. I lived in Pittsburgh and I could still barely afford a martini at a classy bar unless I planned on skipping dinner so I could get drunk faster and spend less money. I know a tv show would maybe be less cool if it showed friends drinking shitty beer in a dodgy bar – but that is what your early 20s are about. Well either that, or getting seriously drunk on cheap vodka (pre-game holler) before you went out so you only had to pay for one expensive drink.

dranks

Seriously – who could afford classy drinks post college? Not this girl!

2) Everyone is super well dressed and looks amazing – even when they are supposed to look like shit. Think about the last time you went through a break-up — were you wearing make-up and having your hair look amazing? Did you wear clean clothes? Wait – what? You didn’t even brush your hair? And your eyes are puffy because you fell asleep crying? That is what I thought. Everyone looks 24-7 amazing. It’s bullshit. Again, I do applaud Lena Dunham for showing off her less than perfect (by Hollywood standards) body – but everyone else can suck it. When Zooey Deschanel (who I think is the cat’s pajamas) lost her job on New Girl she spent her depression in cute pajamas and when she started her part-time job she looks like she still shops at Anthropologie and much classier places than her character on the New Girl (an elementary teacher in LA) could possibly afford. You know what I’d like to see? Some people dressing in some shit from H&M and the Gap because seriously – the only time I could afford Anthropologie in my early 20s was when it was one of their seasonal sales and even then I’d gripe about paying $40 for a shell for under a cardigan. Also – even the “poor” people (Brem brought up Fiona on Shameless) dress way classy for being trashy. Unless it’s stolen, there is no way Fiona could afford some of that wardrobe. And for the love of god can we see characters wear the same thing more than once like Angela Chase used to wear her same flannel on my So-Called Life? I loved the fact that you see Claire Danes in the same dress throughout several different episodes on that show – it made it feel authentic because everyone has a shirt/dress/accessory that they often wear because it’s their favorite and they think it looks awesome on them.

If I looked this hot when i was in mid 20s funk I wouldn't have been depressed.

If I looked this hot when I was in mid 20s funk I wouldn’t have been depressed.

3) No one is depressed. Seriously? Did any of these writers live through their early 20s? I know everyone says that it is supposed to be the best time of your life and while I have some good memories of those days post college, mostly it makes me cringe. My confidence levels make me cringe, the way I was around boys makes me cringe, the way I drank too much makes me cringe, etc. I don’t think I was ever more lost than I was after I graduated college. I was completely clueless about life (not that I am presently an expert) and I felt like everyone seemed to have it figured out except me. Until I realized years later that everyone I knew felt as lost and shitty as I did. Depression wasn’t eating a cupcake in the bathtub or spending a weekend in your pajamas like they show on TV. Everyone is full of existential ennui but they recover from it in the span of 22 minutes. That’s not what it’s really like. It was being unemployed for a month and a half and having my roommate come home and find me still in my pajamas watching a Gilmore Girls marathon and eating ice cream at 5pm while listening to the Wicked Soundtrack (it was a dark time y’all). It was calling my mom every day at lunch from my shitty office temping job (that’s right — not everyone works in an art gallery or a publishing house) because I didn’t have anyone else to talk to and felt like a loser eating alone. It was bursting into tears listening to really bad music and drinking inappropriate amounts of alcohol. Sigh.

This is a more accurate visual early 20s depression. Sidenote -Renee Zellweger looks way better with a little fat - she's such a bobblehead now.

This is a more accurate visual of early 20s depression. Side note -Renee Zellweger looks way better with a little fat – she’s such a bobble head now.

4) All everyone cares about is sex.  False. I didn’t even have a serious “like” life in my early 20s. I was awkward as shit with guys I liked and I never met anyone I wanted to see more than once (zing) romantically at a bar. None of my friends ever banged each other or each others boyfriend/girlfriend  and created drama in our group and no one was a super whore. Not saying my friends and I were prudish by any means (I could tell some stories) – but our lives didn’t revolve around “finding love” or a serious boyfriend but rather around figuring out what the fuck to do with our lives. It was hard enough trying to make myself happy – no way I was going to attempt to make anyone else happy.

Sometimes I think I should just write a tv show and make it about my early 20s experience but after reading the above rants I think perhaps no one would want to watch it because it might be too depressing. But you feel me, right? Were your early 20s magical? Were you full of confidence, drinking martinis, dressing classy and being awesome? If so, congratulations — I suspect you are the minority and you’re probably too cool to actually be my friend.

Random Thought – What does Ryan Gosling see in Eva Mendes? She is hot but she definitely seems like a bitch, right? I wish he’d just get back together with Rachel McAdams and have beautiful, talented, amazing Canadian babies.

Too adorable for words. Just get back together you two.

Too adorable for words. Just get back together you two.