Tuesday, January 22, 2008

quit the snubbing!

Oscar nominations came out. Blech.

I think a lot of the nominations are pretty much what people expected. Juno got a lot of love, as well as Daniel Day-Lewis scoring another nomination, and everyone wet themselves over Cate Blanchett for the umpteenth time in her career (twice!). Really, Academy... while she's probably this century's Meryl Streep, I do believe there were many performances this year you could have given that extra nomination to. I'm not saying Angelina Jolie should have got it, but share the love once in a while!

My heart was broken when I didn't see Emile Hirsch on the list for Best Actor for his performance in Into the Wild. It has to be one of the best of the year, a transformation for Hirsch to actually become this character. And Sean Penn, the film's director and co-writer (along with the book's author Jon Krakauer) is sorely missing from the bunch. I figured they would at least get a Best Cinematography nod due to the sweeping shots of Alaska and beyond, but they could only make due with a Best Editing and Supporting Actor nod for Hal Holbrook, who was pretty damn good in the movie, too. Also missing is Eddie Vedder with his great soundtrack. None the less, whatever recognition they got, it's Into the Wild for the win!

I can't remember a year when I've actually been happy with the Oscar nominations fully---I think there's always a chance that somebody will get snubbed. But I really, really, really hate when they're it's so obvious that they're all IDIOTS.

One more note: no love for The Simpsons Movie is a serious, serious mistake! But then again, nothing will stand a chance against Ratatouille. Nothing!

Visit: Oscars (Official site)
Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes


Monday, January 21, 2008

my guide to making your iTunes playlist look cooler than it actually is

Lloyd Dobler wants you to listen to Peter Gabriel!

Like many people with nothing else to do, I try to strike a balance between keeping my iPod "up to date" with some of the more popular music today, as well as some of the "oldie, but goodie" songs that I remember from my childhood.

But like many people with iPods, I find that what makes you super cool is the playlist that you can put together. There are many playlists that you can model your own after, such as a specific genre, a film's soundtrack, or whether a couple of songs you like happen to be upbeat. Playing your playlist for someone else by let's say, lending your iPod to someone is the ultimate test of your super cool-ness: if they like it, I'm sure they'll say something like "Kick ass playlist, man." If they don't, they either say nothing or hand you your iPod back in silence. You're either ahead of your time, or your taste sucks. I like to think you're somewhere in between.

Basing your list on a theme is always a winner. For example, if you like 80s music, you can make one that is simply called "80s music." You could go a thousand ways on this one, such as filling your list with popular songs from the era, or maybe a hundred metal hair-band songs from the 80s. Possibilities are endless.

If you're looking for inspiration, I really suggest you try the iTunes store where almost every week Celebrity Playlists are updated. In these playlists, you get to know your favorite celebrity's favorite songs, and you can either download the whole thing or download the songs that you want. It's sort of a window into the soul of your favorite celebrity, a way to know what inspires them and if they actually have decent taste.

My favorite playlist was one that was never posted. It was director Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Clerks, etc.), whom by the way is one of my heroes because of his talents as a writer and his ease at being so articulate when called upon. Smith's was never posted because it was too long! If you read it, you get classic Kevin Smith with all his quips, quirks, and hardcore love for songs you know and songs you'll make fun of him for liking. Whatever. It's just too good.

My least favorite? Any playlists on which I know none of the artists. Why? Well, this ties into the the whole "ahead of your time" thing. Sometimes celebrities like to prove how interesting or how "ahead of their time" they are by saying they like all of these obscure artists that nobody knows about. While I agree that it's nice to know the obscure artists, my only suggestion is that they manage to insert at least one artist that the masses would know. I'm not saying that they need to have T-Pain or Carrie Underwood in there, but maybe just one Elvis or Bob Dylan song would suffice. Something to make me care. Their descriptions also might need work. I'm kind of over the whole "This is AMAZING!" or "I love how this makes me feel."

No matter where you draw inspiration from, my best advice is to go with your gut, and go with what you like. It doesn't really matter what other people think about your playlist... unless you're throwing a party for a hundred drunk college kids. That's when you probably need to consult popular radio, or read Blender.

Some "choice" playlist themes that I'm planning to attempt, complete with their titles:
Steal this movie!: It seems that these days movies don't have a hit single in them anymore, ala "I Will Always Love You" (The Bodyguard) or "My Heart Will Go On" (Titanic). This playlist lets the trend live on! Planned songs include songs from Ghostbusters, Footloose, Mannequin, etc. Not so much 80s movies, but also 90s and others. Many possibilities here, folks. You could also do one with TV theme songs!
Sensitivity: This will be dedicated to all the songs that are about love that make me cry, or songs that make me feel more misunderstood than I actually do already. It might contain some emo songs (maybe), but I really think I'll fill this one with songs from John Mayer, Jason Mraz and countless singer-songwriters. If you have a guitar and you sing all raspy and sweet, then this is the playlist for you.
Travellin' Songs: Named after a Bright Eyes song. What else does it have but songs that make you feel like you're out on the road. It's not anything new, but I think it's essential for your iPod.


My own personal playlist (filled with songs/artists you know, songs/artists you might not):

  • "I Want You Back" - *NSync: Quite possibly my most favorite song by the band because of its cheesiness and super-Swedish production. It has this late 90s boybland-licious vibe that I can, and never will shake. It still gets me all riled up (to dance). *NSync will be back!
  • "1000 Things" - Jason Mraz: It's a "love at first sight" song. I'll never get tired of it because Mraz always know how to make you feel lovey dovey, even if you're not in love. I like listening to his music when I need to relax or get in the mood. He's also one of my favorite artists.
  • "Modern Nature" - Sondre Lerche: It was one of the songs off of the soundtrack to Dan In Real Life, but it's been out for a while. This is a song that would most definitely be on a romantic playlist just because it's playful and sweet.
  • "Narcolepsy" - Third Eye Blind: 90s rock at its best. That particular line "how'd you like to be alone and drowning" still gets me.
  • "How Come U Don't Call Me" - Prince: I didn't hear the original one until I heard Alicia Keys' version. Although I love both, I dig Prince's more because damn, it's Prince. Alicia's version is more upbeat and pop-like, while Prince's is stripped down and seems more tragic in his grief.
  • "Vegas" - Sara Bareilles: My favorite singer-songwriter to emerge from the past year! She's really great live, and this song is my theme song as of ... now. You can kind of go through the motions of wanting to start anew when you listen to it without actually having to do it. She gives you an idea.
  • "I Believe When I Fall In Love (It Will Be Forever)" - Stevie Wonder: The title pretty much explains it. My favorite Stevie song, too.
  • "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)" - The White Stripes: Also self-explanatory. And I'm a huge, huge, huge White Stripes fan. Huge.
  • "Videotape" - Radiohead: I never really liked/listened to Radiohead until "in_Rainbows" came out. Call me bandwagon, but I think these guys might be onto something here! ;)
  • "Coming Clean" - Green Day: a "coming out" song. It has this innocence to it.
  • "Refuge (When It's Cold Outside)" - John Legend: another "love" song. Making a love-song playlist without anything by John Legend is a sin. (Also, do you notice I like a lot of songs that have parenthesis in the title?)
  • "Foolish Love" - Rufus Wainwright: I discovered him late, but this is one of his classics. He can certainly belt out a tune.
  • "The Professor & La Fille Danse" - Damien Rice: Another singer-songwriter ... please don't except anything less! I love his voice and its' ability to get quiet at the most appropriate times. Sigh.
  • "Livin' On A Prayer" - Bon Jovi: My fondest memory of this song is me and my cousins in a car banging our heads along to this song while my uncle blasted it on the radio, the windows down, the wind blowing hard. It sounds like it's out of a movie, but it wasn't. I still get chills.
  • "Back Here" - BBMak: This song is so unbelievably lame, but I'll be all cliche and say I LOVE IT, and I could listen to it forever.
  • "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)" - Ashlee Simpson: I know I lose my street cred (ha) by saying I like this song, but damn. I really like this song.
I could go on, but it would take forever.

Visit: iTunes (official)
My Boring Ass Life (Kevin Smith's blog)
Image Credits: Scene Stealer (Say Anything), Amazon (for the CD covers)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

so long (and good night.)

Brad Renfro (1982 - 2008)

(Dexter has just woken up to find his sleeping bag drenched with sweat. Erik is already awake from hearing him whimper; he takes the shirt off his back to give to Dexter, and gives him his dry sleeping bag as well. Dexter is scared, and Erik assures him that he is not alone.)

Dexter: Suppose you kept going another 18 billion light years, what if there's nothing out there? Suppose you kept going another trillion times further, so far out you see nothing. The light from the universe would be fainter than the faintest star. Infinitely cold. Infinitely dark. Sometimes if I wake up and it's dark, I get really scared, like I'm out there and I'm never coming back.
Erik: Here, hold onto this when you sleep. And if you wake up and you're scared, you'll say, "Wait a minute. I'm holding Erik's shoe. Why the hell would I be holding some smelly basketball shoe a trillion light years from the universe? I must be here on earth, safe in my sleeping bag, and Erik must be close by."

(Scene from "The Cure")


I think Sir Ian McKellen, Brad's co-star from "Apt Pupil" really puts it best as to how much everyone will miss this kid.


Films he made that I recommend you check out: The Client, Ghost World, Telling Lies In America, Apt Pupil, Bully.
Randomly useless fact about that photo: About five years ago, I was planning on putting that photo on a t-shirt because of how cool I thought it was.

Visit: Brad Renfro.org

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

the martha stewart collection: did I really pay 72 bucks for a 7 quart pot?

The Martha Stewart Collection, which has probably been out for only a couple of months is my ultimate guilty pleasure. Sure I could buy pots and pans that don't have the MS brand label on it, but then again, I could also go to sleep at a reasonable hour every night and not eat dinner at 11pm. That in itself is another issue.

But to focus on the subject at hand: the collection is my vice. Anything and everything you can think of to use in the home has been made for this collection. And it seems that Martha knows that I have a weakness for newer, shinier versions of things I already have. For some reason, I believe that if Martha puts out a melon baller, I MUST HAVE A MELON BALLER. NOW. EVEN THOUGH I DON'T EAT MELONS UNLESS AT A BUFFET IN RENO.

I haven't bought as much from the MSC as you would think, especially since I'm a super hardcore Martha enthusiast. So far, I am satisfied by each of the products I have bought.

Product: "Waterman" Double Old Fashioned Glass
Price: $19.99
Worth it?: Absolutely. My family has always had a penchant for breaking glasses, which made me a little apprehensive about buying these glasses. But for a bargain like this for some European glass, I really, really could not not buy it. Also, if anyone breaks any of these glasses, they know what will happen to them. I really like how they look, too.
Personal rating: pretty damn great.

Product: Non-stick Spring form Pan
Price: $9.99
Worth it?: For me, yes, since I cannot find my old spring form pans. My only regret is that this spring form pan doesn't have any ridges on the bottom, therefore when I made the Triple Chocolate Cheesecake from Everyday Food, it was kind of rough to lift out of the pan at first. I recommend letting your cheesecake set for more than a couple of hours in this pan. Maybe even for a day.
Personal rating: super.

Product: 7-Qt. Cast Iron Round Pot
Price: $119.99 (Regular price - currently unavailable online!)
Worth it?: YES, YES, YES!!! I can't tell you how much it helps to go to an actual Macy's and check out the collection in person. It seems to me that anytime I'm walking around in The Cellar, everything is on sale. Last week, I bought myself a red one (much, much prettier than the blue one in my opinion) for the ultimate low price of $72 bucks. I really love having this pot, and I cannot stop talking about it, let along using it. When and if I'm home early enough to make dinner, this is the pot I have been using. I christened it while making the Beef Stew recipe from December's Everyday Food. It took a while, but I enjoyed making a meal in a really, really nice pot. I can't wait to do a roast! While it's not a Le Creuset... okay. I really don't care.
Personal rating: the best (damn) thing since sliced bread. And drive-thru Starbucks locations.

There is a lot more from this collection that I could go for, but at the same time, I'm happy with the things that I do have, as well as the things from the MSC that I have shelled out some cash for. If there is anything I really recommend, it's that you visit Macy's and try to buy everything on sale. Usually on sale is the cookware, bakeware, and even dinnerware. But never the gadgets and things ... never. And, if you're as hardcore as I am, I really think getting that 7-quart pan is essential.

Sigh... Martha Stewart has truly made my house a home.

Product photos from: The Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's
MS Logo Photo: Doyle Partners
Visit: Martha Stewart (official)
The Martha Blog (official blog!)
Secret Sources (Martha's favorite sources)

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

gladiator ready!!!

(Old school Malibu looking fierce as hell.)

The new American Gladiators premiered on Sunday, and man! It was both exciting and hilarious. Exciting because of the changes (Water below the joust! Fire on the water!), and hilarious because certain people can't take the heat (falling off balance beam face forward!).

And that's the one thing that gets me: is the new Eliminator so tough that these people can't even get through the whole thing without looking like a hung over zombie? During the first half of the two hour special, the first two women competitors were exhausted after swimming under the fire and climbing the cargo net! It was INSANE, but so funny how they struggled to do anything, or as they were on that barrel roll. It was like, dude, all you have to do is hang onto the barrel, but they couldn't even do that! Oh man. HI-larious.

And man, I don't even remember the Eliminator being so hard. That treadmill that used to be at the beginning looks easy now that there's a rope there, but even that's tough to get up. Terrible. I also thought that their cuts to footage of the losing competitor trying to get up that treadmill after they lost were also terrible, but super funny.

Anyway. Take a look at a clip from the old Eliminator, where they get through the hand bike really fast. Crazy.

Visit: American Gladiators (NBC.com)


Thursday, January 03, 2008

conan back = happy me

I can't tell you how happy I am that "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" is back tonight. So far the show has been as funny as I'm used to it being. Unfortunately, they returned without the writers, thus coming up with material on the spot as well as on the spot material previously taped. But first and foremost, he stated that he supports the writers, which was met by applause.

The show so far has included:
- Conan and his sexy strike beard, which proves that he "has testosterone."
- A nice tribute to his strike beard ... I love you.
- Conan trying to break the record of how long he can spin his wedding ring on his desk. (Longest was 41 seconds; tonight he got 36)
- A tour of Conan's office, as well as what he and others have been doing during these past two months.
- Conan talking about playing Sudoku, then throwing the book of it at someone in frustration.
- Conan and a portable amp, playing his guitar.
- Taking his amp and guitar and playing while people are trying to do work, or playing while people were trying to play Rock Band. Ha.
- regular guest Bob Saget from "Full House" and making bad jokes. Of course.

Others like Letterman and Leno returned as well, but to be pretty damn honest, I really only cared about Conan. The most important thing that should happen as quickly as possible is that this strike gets resolved ASAP. I was so upset about "Heroes" ending so early, earlier than it should have been. It would have been a phenomenal season, but right now I just feel like nothing's happening. Nothing! Hurry up! TV is super boring these days, which is something I never though I would say. I don't want to see anymore reality shows... because most of them suck.

Well... except "American Gladiators." Holy crap, I'm excited that that's coming back.

Picture from: Faded Youth Blog
Visit: O'Brien Improvises, saying "Sadly, we don't have our writers with us" (NYT Blog)

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